On reviewing bars: Is it better to be too soon or too late?
Got this email from a reader named Ted:
I read your review of J.A. Murphy's (pictured) and question the wisdom of reviewing someplace that has only been open for a week. Bars and restaurants need time to work things out. Even the best and most experienced restaurant owners make many changes in their first year.
The New Orleans food critic Tom Fitzmorris has a policy of not reviewing any restaurant until it has been six months. I think it allows owners to smooth out the problems. If they haven't, they probably won't be around in a year.
And here is what I wrote back to him ...
Thanks for the email, Ted. I'm with you -- I think reviewing a place a week after it opens is unfair. When I started The Sun's nightlife column about three years ago, I always waited about a month before reviewing bars and clubs for this very reason. But lately I've been getting some competition from other Web sites.
Normally when a new bar opens, I like to announce it on my blog, Midnight Sun, give it a couple weeks to get its bearings, and review it.
But more and more, these other Web sites see my blog posts about new bars opening, run to the bars and review them -- just to say they were the first to review them.
So I've been forced to review bars the first or second week they open. It's silly and unfortunate, but in the press, being the first is everything.
Now, in my reviews, I usually mention that I was there soon after the bar opened, and new bars take time to get their bearings.
Thanks again for the feedback.
(Photos by me. Kudos to the tavern for offering such a sweet happy hour special, too.)