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Did Red Medicine commit suicide?

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trojans Dec 23, 2010 12:30 PM

They kicked Irene Virbila out of their restaurant and posted her photo on the net.

http://la.eater.com/archives/2010/12/...

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Red Medicine
8400 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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  1. The Chowhound Team Dec 23, 2010 09:10 PM

    Folks, we're locking this thread and redirecting comments to the other thread under way. Thanks.

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/755150

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    1. Funwithfood Dec 23, 2010 08:26 PM

      Anyone find a photo of the owner, haven't been able to find a photo of this fragile guy.

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      1. re: Funwithfood
        Will Owen Dec 23, 2010 08:36 PM

        Someone on the other thread on this topic mentioned that the website is down. H'm. Suicide or hibernation?

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      2. w
        whatsfordinner Dec 23, 2010 06:42 PM

        I don't get why they let her wait 40 minutes before kicking her out. The whole thing just seems nasty and mean spirited.

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        1. EWSflash Dec 23, 2010 06:02 PM

          Red Medicine's owner obviously has a case of the arse about the critic. Either he hates her so much he wanted her out of there no matter what, or he booted her because he welcomes the notariety of having kicked her out. Or he doesn't think his place is up to snuff.
          For all I know (which is nothing) the whole thing is a huge publicity stunt designed to give both parties maximum exposure. I hate that kind of posturing for the press.

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          Red Medicine
          8400 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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          1. s
            smiling ed Dec 23, 2010 06:01 PM

            By the way isn't Red Medicine kinda a dumb name for a Restaurant?

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            1. Tripeler Dec 23, 2010 05:09 PM

              While they did have the right to refuse to serve she and her party, they did not have the right to take her picture and publish it on the Internet without her permission. That's just stupid and mean spirited, and certainly grounds for a lawsuit.

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              1. re: Tripeler
                J.L. Dec 23, 2010 05:33 PM

                Restaurant waiting areas are public places, operated by its tenants. There is no expectancy of privacy in such settings, should the operators choose to take photos or videos of this area. No permission or waiver is required.

                Case in point: Video surveillance is done at the bank (by the bank) all the time while you wait in line for a teller. And if someone robs that bank, the robber's image/video is distributed far and wide.

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              2. ipsedixit Dec 23, 2010 04:38 PM

                This post and the other one on the Food and Media board are evidence that Red Medicine did not commit suicide.

                Prior to the SIV incident, there was only one thread (with one reply) on Red Medicine on these boards. Now, be it good or bad, people are at least talking about the place and it's in the public (Chowhound) conscience.

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                Red Medicine
                8400 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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                1. re: ipsedixit
                  b
                  Bradbury Dec 23, 2010 05:18 PM

                  It's a point worth considering, but is it really true in this case that any publicity is good publicity? Speaking only for myself, I had heard of Red Medicine before this bit of news, but didn't know much about it. As a result, it has gone from my list of "like to find out more and maybe get around to trying it someday" to my list of "not bloody likely".

                  It was bad enough for the owners to act like spiteful jerks with something to hide (just think of those movies that refuse to screen for critics before opening...) but then to cover it up with inane defenses like "her bad reviews have cost people their jobs" just insults one's intelligence. People are always shifting jobs in the restaurant industry; the most a critic can hope for is to save more jobs at good restaurants versus bad ones.

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                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    r
                    RicRios Dec 23, 2010 05:38 PM

                    Ipse, remember this equation:

                    "Chowhound" # < is not equal to > "the public"

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                    1. re: RicRios
                      ipsedixit Dec 23, 2010 06:17 PM

                      True enough, RicRios.

                      But consider this. When the public Googles "Red Medicine" the posts on Chowhound will contribute to the search results. Indirectly, we are contributing to the public's awareness of this place -- for better or worse.

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                    2. re: ipsedixit
                      m
                      mc michael Dec 23, 2010 06:13 PM

                      Yeah, I think they felt the need to do something to get attention.

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                    3. chris2269 Dec 23, 2010 04:18 PM

                      Who cares critics are dead IMO. They were important when there was only the printed word but in this day and age with boards and blogs ...they all irrelevant.

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                      1. re: chris2269
                        Baron Dec 23, 2010 04:28 PM

                        Great point Chris. The relevancy of the professional critic has been minimized by the technology of the internet.

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                        1. re: chris2269
                          b
                          Bradbury Dec 23, 2010 05:34 PM

                          I'd beg to differ. The mediocre "four and a half buckets of popcorn!" critic might now be more irrelevant, but a really good critic who can actually WRITE WELL is more important than ever in an era drowning in user-generated statistics.

                          If you've ever read the collected reviews/essays by critics such as Anthony Lane, Pauline Kael, or Greil Marcus (or the occasional critical reviews from writers such as John Updike, DF Wallace, or Salman Rushdie) you'll realize that there's a lot of really rewarding stuff there completely independent of whether or not you enjoyed the reviewed work in question.

                          Here in LA we're lucky to have a handful of good restaurant critics (and I include Virbila in the list even though I agree with her less often than with Gold, Kuh, Burum, Nguyen) who can tell you more about a place from one review than you'd learn from 20 Yelp commenters telling you about the awesome artichoke dip at the place where their boyfriends took them for their birthdays.

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                        2. v
                          virtual balboa Dec 23, 2010 04:15 PM

                          I don't want to seem like I'm taking sides with Red Medicine (they seem like vindictive tools) BUT...

                          First: Employees at restaurants upscale enough to get reviewed by her already knew what SIV looked like. Nothing new. But MORE important:

                          Second: She's a terrible writer. And I wish more people would acknowledge that. How many times do we need to hear about the chairs? How much passive voice can we handle? As an LA resident I hate knowing that any time a find dining restaurant opens up, Virbila's plodding review inevitably awaits. Her review of Red O was a farce, so was Valentino. That's just off the top of my head. And I hate the system there: why is she the only one that gets to review these places? Why shouldn't someone like Burum or Parsons or ANYBODY get to take a crack at the upscale places? And conversely (more importantly, too), when did she last review like a dumpling place? Or a taqueria? Or anything where the bill for a party of four doesn't equal the busboy's rent? It'd do her well, give her some perspective.

                          And the last award she won was like in 2005, right?

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                          Valentino (Santa Monica)
                          3115 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405

                          Red O
                          8155 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

                          Red Medicine
                          8400 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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                          1. re: virtual balboa
                            goodhealthgourmet Dec 23, 2010 05:02 PM

                            i agree with you about SIV's reviews, her writing generally sucks. but i still think this was a hugely stupid move on Red Medicine's part - it gives the impression that they have something to hide, and it was just plain unprofessional.

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                            Red Medicine
                            8400 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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                          2. Baron Dec 23, 2010 04:09 PM

                            What was he thinking? What a bone head move. Asking her to leave was his prerogative, but dumb. But taking her picture and outing a known restaurant critic (who needs anonymity) is malicious. Possible law suit here as Ms Virbila has been damaged. Such a nasty thing to do.

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                            1. re: Baron
                              Funwithfood Dec 23, 2010 05:24 PM

                              I agree. He must be one of those overly-emotional types.

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                            2. o
                              odub Dec 23, 2010 03:29 PM

                              To answer the OP's question: probably, yes.

                              At this point, the restaurant either has to completely win over customers who've managed NOT to read a thing about this controversy (good luck there!) or wage the mother of all PR campaigns to make people forget that their owners aren't a pair of d-bags.

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                              1. b
                                BearCity Dec 23, 2010 03:09 PM

                                If you believe you're doing things right, you welcome a review.

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                                1. re: BearCity
                                  Will Owen Dec 23, 2010 03:18 PM

                                  I think I'd welcome one from an accomplished critic if I thought I *MIGHT* be on the right track but not absolutely sure. And if I were screwing it up I wouldn't like the review, but if I were smart I'd pay attention to it.

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                                2. Will Owen Dec 23, 2010 03:09 PM

                                  Did Red Medicine commit suicide? It is to be devoutly hoped. A restaurateur is in the hospitality business, whether he likes it or not. Attitude against customers ought to be a disqualification; kicking them out for simply doing their job is unacceptable.

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                                  1. c
                                    coffeebrownies Dec 23, 2010 02:51 PM

                                    He's a putz. She was doing her job by visiting his restaurant, and by unmasking her, he was trying to interfere with her ability to do her job. She could have been a judge, an auditor, a police officer, a sports scout or a book reviewer. There are many people whose job is to critique or pass judgement on the work of others. You might disagree with these people, but to preemptively try to ruin her career (remember she hadn't yet even eaten at his retaurant, let alone review it) because she was going to write it up shows a nasty streak that is really beyond the pale. I, for one will not ever eat there. Certainly, he has tried to create a little local restaurant war, and I am proud to say that in this one, I have chosen my side.

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                                    1. re: coffeebrownies
                                      m
                                      maudies5 Dec 23, 2010 03:11 PM

                                      What coffeebrownies said. +1

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                                    2. puppychao Dec 23, 2010 02:43 PM

                                      If Red Medicine thought that this would bring publicity they were right, LA food blogs are buzzing about this topic.

                                      But I think in the long run, this negative publicity is not going have had a bigger impact than if they would have just stepped it up and received a good review from SIV. I do trust her knowledge, though I may not agree with her palete.

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                                      Red Medicine
                                      8400 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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                                      1. s
                                        sarahjames Dec 23, 2010 01:53 PM

                                        They have the right to refuse service to anyone (or I assume they have one of those signs that every other place has), but their argument seems weak. I haven't read any of her reviews, BUT they tried to make it seem like she knew nothing about food. I read an article and she KNOWS the biz. She used to own a restaurant (or multiple, I dont recall), and has played every role. She's got more experience than the guy who runs Red Medicine, that's for sure!

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                                        Red Medicine
                                        8400 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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                                        1. J.L. Dec 23, 2010 01:50 PM

                                          They say no publicity is bad publicity, but this 'Hound feels that this level of spite has no place in the food service / hospitality industry. Shame on Red Medicine management for taking the low road. This was a poor PR move, in my opinion.

                                          Though it may not be anything truly substantial, this story may also give the general public the sense of "What are they trying to hide at Red Medicine?". Was the whole "outing of the critic" drama intended to be a diversion from the actual issues in operations?

                                          Side note: In this age of mobile devices and easy, quick digital photography, don't expect any real degree of anonymity, especially if you're writing about restaurants and sharing it with a huge number of readers. SIV admitted herself essentially that she was going to be "outed" by somebody sooner or later...

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                                          1. n
                                            ns1 Dec 23, 2010 12:38 PM

                                            well there's one restaurant i'm in no hurry to go to.

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                                            1. re: ns1
                                              m
                                              mc michael Dec 23, 2010 12:44 PM

                                              why? one less person/party to fight with to get a table

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                                              1. re: mc michael
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                                                ns1 Dec 23, 2010 01:28 PM

                                                i'm not down with restaurants booting out critics.

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                                                1. re: ns1
                                                  Servorg Dec 23, 2010 01:30 PM

                                                  Critic kicks restaurant. Restaurant kicks back. Now, that's news (in the "man bites dog" vein)

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                                                  1. re: Servorg
                                                    cant talk...eating Dec 23, 2010 04:06 PM

                                                    It would be 'man bites dog' if a restauranteur decided to write a review of SIV's food writing. In this case, she was doing her job, and someone decided go nuts.

                                                    The whole thing is so odd - restaurants don't seem to live or die based on LAT reviews, I've noticed. And, since many L.A. restaurants seem to be in the publicity, rather than the food business, it wouldn't surprise me if this weren't some massive PR backfire.

                                                    That said, it'll probably fail anyway (Asian fusion restaurants don't exactly thrive around here), but this ain't gonna help prolong its life.

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