Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ne'er do Wells

Quite the controversy is a brewin' in the food world.

In the right corner is M. Wells, beloved Long Island City diner which is closing shop this month after less than a year, after the landlord jacked the rent up.

And in the opposite corner is GQ food columnist, Alan Richman.

The controversy goes like this: He went to the diner once and had a great meal. He went twice and also had a great meal. He went for a third time and had a terrible meal.

The food (usually terrific) was middling, and the service was horrible.

The next day he got an email from the owner saying that he had apparently pinched one of the waitresses on the tush.

Holy shit!

It's quite an accusation. And not having any extra knowledge other than what appeared in the article, I probably shouldn't weigh in on it. But I will say that the accusation sounds phony to me for several reasons.

1) If it was true, I would be surprised if Richman would draw attention to it by actually publishing a column about it. (After all, he had a perfect excuse for killing the article: M. Wells was closing. It's not really the actions of a guilty person.)

2) The motive for a phony accusation is there, as Richman points out in the column.

3) If this ever comes to a head, Richman has witnesses (three people at his table) to back him up.

4) Sarah Obraitis (the M. Wells owner who was in email contact with him) seemed, by the end of their exchange, to be backing off the accusation. (The accusation moved from "hardy pat on the ass" to "tapped one of our female servers inappropriately.")

5) For all the press this article has received, I have yet to see Obraitis -- or anyone else at M. Wells -- publicly challenge the review, bring forth the accuser, or issue any kind of rebuttal. (Part of me is scratching his head wondering why a reporter hasn't called her and asked for her side of this? Where are you, Eater and Grub Street?)

6) If Richman did this, it would soil his reputation. It seems such a weird, gratutious thing to do.

All that being said, I'd like to hear more details from the other side. But I'm inclined to think this accusation was bogus.