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Dec 5, 2001 10:14 PM

Chowhound in dire trouble-let's open our wallets!

  • l

NOTE: A version of this appears in General Topics, but I've added some other comments here...

A conversation with Jim Leff today made me understand that Chowhound is in dire trouble, and will disappear very quickly unless something like a miracle happens. I
read the several pitches for the Chowhound store as something like a public radio pitch--we need your support, we can't make it without, etc., but unlike public radio (which of course we all love and support), Chowhound really is a gonner without a very fast and very large infusion of cash. Although Jim and I don't always see eye to eye,I, for one, would be quite upset if I woke up tomorrow or a week from tomorrow and this site had disappeared. I'm very grateful for everything Jim, Bob, and the rest of the staff has put into it, including their own money. So although I do feel I
contribute to the site--by posting, as we all do (this is in reference to a thread about on this board), it seems another kind of support is required. Jim feels he has already expressed this, but until today, I hadn't understood the gravity of it, so I'm betting others didn't either. (I was too busy to read all the way through the targetted email, etc.) WHen I mentioned the problem to my mom, she said, "Well, I don't want a magnet, but I'll gladly send a check." So whether or not you're interested in owning a refrigerator magnet or a tee-shirt (I don't mean to disparage the merchandise, which seems to be really high-quality, well-designed and worthwhile, but some of us just aren't interested in merchandise...), if you value this site, if you value being a part of this community, I think it's time to ante up, and quick! The subscription services, by the way, sound vrey worthwhile.

Here's what I'm thinking: this L.A. board is one of the most active and vibrant, so why don't we see how much we Angelenos can pull together! Please donate $20 or whatever you can afford or think the site merits. The price of one good food guidebook would be more than $20. Thanks for your attention, and I hope we can pull together!


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  1. I agree, but I also think we should convince some of our favorite restaurants that have benefitted from numerous mentions here to make a donation. Maybe we could even talk one of them into hosting a fundraising dinner . . .

    2 Replies
    1. re: chris g.

      Sorry, but I have to put my foot down on this:

      No money from restaurants EVER. This is a cardinal rule, and I won't break it and implore everyone not to approach restaurants to donate, pay, host events, or in any other way support this site. I'm extremely adamant about this; won't budge at ALL.


      1. re: Jim Leff

        Jim, I applaud your unwaivering stance on this issue.

        I trust this site to give me honest, unbiased information about places to eat by the people who've eaten there and even the illusion that this site is being funded by restaurants discussed on this board would taint it's image.

        Restaurant reviews in publications are fine but there are many varied tastes when it comes to food. Being able to read multiple opinions by people and even interact with them if I have questions is invaluable to me and something that publications can't provide.

        Thanks for keeping the integrity of the Chowhound site intact even in the face of tough times. I just made my first purchase and I hope all Chowhounds will heed the plea!

    2. How do we donate money?

      4 Replies
      1. re: Phil Agre
        Leslie Brenner

        Phil, it's easy--follow this link.


        1. re: Leslie Brenner

          Phil, we'd love you to buy lotsa stuff (we're proud of our products!), but if you JUST want to make a contribution, check out "Good Will" at that link. It allows you to simply give us some bucks (in factors of $20, like a ATM!)

          you can also do that by sending a check.


          1. re: Jim Leff

            We love your whom do we send a check?

            1. re: aj

              I just happened to have the post right here with the address for checks - hopefully Jim will get this address front and center in a post or the main page somehow (hint hint)

              thanks for joining the what seem to be masses contributing... hopefully we'll be able to keep Chowhound going!


      2. is a great product. On this point, there seems to be site-wide consensus. The question seems to be, why are folks not willing to BUY this product when they are so willing to consume it when it is FREE.

        Perhaps we believe that, as with other Internet experiences, if Chowhound goes under, another will pop up to replace it. Not so. Simply Google out there to see what else is available. NOTHING compares.

        Perhaps we're cheap. Maybe some of us are poor, but I reckon none of us are really cheap. We post our willingness to drive 25 miles for the "best" taco al pastor & our disappointment with a particular '89 Haut Medoc. Yet we're reluctant to part with $30/year to perhaps discover a "better" taco al pastor in ChowNews? I don't get it.

        At this point -- not quite a week into the effort -- maybe we are reluctant to hop aboard a sinking ship. Clearly our leader is depressed. Shall I send him money & then have him commit webi-kebi with it? Shall I pop for a newsletter that may never happen? Tough question that we -- and our leader -- need to come to grips with. I think many folks need assurance that, despite dire warnings, Chowhound has not hit the iceberg (God, an awful analogy...) & with a modest investment, will find its way to open water (that keeps getting worse).

        For the Grubster, I have already ordered my shirts. And when finished with this will subscribe to ChowNews. Despite the Big Dog's defensive arrogance and occasionally ham-handed censorship, the Grubman loves the site, the posters, the info, the joy of discovery. Besides valuable current information on my favorite topic -- food, good food, a lot of good food -- Chowhound daily brings me hours (don't tell the ol' employer) of sheer entertainment.

        Although I've been cranky about the censorship issue recently, I'm doing my damndest to rise above it. Even to the extent of, yes, thank you Leslie, opening my wallet. I encourage everyone to join the party.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Mr Grub

          I took a short break from this site only to come back yesterday and find things looking very grim. From Jim's postings things sound completely hopeless. I agree with you Mr. Grub that people may be reluctant to hop aboard what appears to be a sinking ship. Maybe a little reassurance that there is hope if we all band together would change things. People want to feel like this is a feasible goal, not a lost cause. That may give many people who are riding the fence a little push. Just a thought.

          1. re: Monique L

            "Maybe a little reassurance that there is hope if we all band together would change things. "

            I won't give false assurances, because I won't lie to you guys, even to save this thing.

            I will say this: final decisions have NOT been made. If a decent percentage of this community cares enough to financially engage, it would keep us going.

            I understand what you're saying (and thanks for saying it politely); it's something I've thought about. Is galvanization the appropriate move, or should we stop whining and just pull the plug? Hard issue. We're choosing to keep open the possibility of a miraculous "It's a Wonderful Life" scenario. I'm waiting for Donna Reed to hand me my cup of steaming hot cocoa. I'm kind of fixated on that. It's all about that cup of steaming hot cocoa.


            1. re: Jim Leff
              michael (mea culpa)

              Cocoa, schmocoa. I'm holding out for champurrado!

              1. re: Jim Leff

                I am glad there is still hope. This is one of my favorite sites and I would surely miss it. My fellow Chowhounds have helped me so much (and I hope I have helped their tastebuds as well). I got tons of great tips for my honeymoon in Oahu back in August. I had never been there and had no idea where to eat and I wanted to make ever meal count. I transferred all the great tips I received into my Palm and we ate our way through the island! I can still taste the truffled ahi at Alan Wong's in Honolulu. And the quartet of foie gras at Hoku's at the Kahala Mandarin. Out of this world... anyway I digress (food on the brain). I too love the last scene in It's a Wonderful Life, so with that inspiration I am headed to the Chowhound Store to do my part. By the way Jim, thanks for all your hard work! It's easy to take for granted all that goes into a site like this. I have no clue about servers, creating web sites, overhead etc. I always wondered how the site survived without advertisements but I guess now I know, it wasn't. Anyhow, if i could send you a cup of cocoa I would. Best of luck.

          2. d
            Dylan Yolles

            I think it would be helpful if there were a better sense of what the total dollar amount needed were, how many people could conceivably contribute, and then a calcuation on a reasonable price per person. And then finally, some kind of running tally (we need $X by time T, we have $Y so far) etc... I would hope that we could pull together 1000 people giving $25 each, I think the counter approach is a useful one...

            1. OK, I just came across this thread and after reading it have forked over (pun intended) my good will. I have been lurking off and on for a couple of months and doing a little posting recently. The least I and many others can do is cough up (pun intended, oh I am a sicko) a little dough (etc.)

              All of you out there who think the Internet and the content of various web sites is or should be free, are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. This is a collective, we share our thoughts and information, and need, on ocassion, to share so Shekels (alliteration intented) to keep the Chowhound sites of the world around.

              This is a great site, full in good information, informative and entertaining commentary, and a fine example of what a small community our world really is.

              Thanks for posting your message Leslie, I hope it has the desired affect.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Chino Wayne

                Sorry about the double posting, I clicked on the wrong button, so I won't be insulted if a Chowhound "staffer" deletes my second posting, unless of course some of the audience is in need of reinforcement of my message...

                1. re: Chino Wayne
                  Leslie Brenner

                  Thanks for yours, Chino. It was very well said.