Down by the Hipster's Scott Solish Steps Forward

scott solish

The face of the operation.Photo courtesy of Down by the Hipster

Yesterday Eater exposed the identity of the author of one of our favorite nightlife blogs, Down by the Hipster. Though his day job remains a mystery (he wont reveal details), Scott Solish wrote for Eaters parent company Curbed for a year before launching his own blog to share scoops (notable early stories were about the New York ventures of L.A. clubs Mondrian and Ago). Hes been going strong in the year since then, regularly turning up nightlife and hospitality stories that are the envy of bigger blogs. Thats why, Solish believes, he was outed. We spoke to him now that his face has been put to his blogs name.

How important was it for you to remain anonymous?
On a scale of one to ten, it was probably a two. The one thing Im most nervous about is if Im applying for a job somewhere Im sure theres some negative association that can come from being a nightlife person. The best part of anonymity was getting e-mails from people saying, "Youve gotta stop doing this or admit who you are because you're making my life difficult."

Anonymous bloggers get outed all the time isnt the real surprise that it didnt happen sooner? What triggered this?
There was nothing to gain from them doing it until Ben [Leventhal, Eaters editor-in-chief] decided to make a personal issue out of it. I was at the opening party for the Rusty Knot the only reason I was there was because I got invited. Those guys [Leventhal and Curbed founder Lockhart Steele] showed up, and I think they were like, You know what, hes doing this, and I started posting more just because theres more information to put out. I think it all came together, and it was like, Enough of this. In his genius thinking [Leventhal] thought the best way to do it was if you put my picture on the Internet.

At the same time, your job is to fish out information that people would often rather keep secret.
We werent telling trade secrets I never did anything to impact anyones business. Theres things you hear and know about that youd never put out there, because its peoples lives. The site wasnt being done for money. All Ive gotten is two drinks, a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue, and over the past thirteen months theres been $113 from Google ads that we still havent gotten a check for.

You know the identity of, for instance, Guest of A Guests editor, who is still anonymous. Have you ever thought about outing her?
Why would I ever do that? Im not a 2-year-old. This is an act of a real 2-year-old.

But what if you discovered that someone say Robert De Niro, or even just a regular guy was a silent investor in a club say, the Beatrice. Wouldnt you do a post outing him?
Why do you put money into a club? The point is to say you have a nightclub. You also have to think about, what do people care about? Do people care that someone gave $70,000 to get a club off the ground? The whole point isnt to out people; its to be a relevant source of information, to show that there are things going on that you can talk intelligently about.

Do you think the food blogosphere has become too focused on minutiae?
I do. I think that theres this war to get information and what is information has grown so much that its kind of defeatist now. To have a restaurant and nightlife blog suddenly decide to become a gossip blog, its great sacrifice to get page views.

Your new contributor Nicolette caught a lot of flack for her post about Touch the commenters seemed to feel you shouldnt be covering cheesy clubs. Do you feel obligated to stick to a niche?
Has anyone else written a thoughtful piece about what its like to go to this club in midtown? Shes young and shes fun and shes never done it before and she got a great reaction.

In the year youve been doing this, blogs like your own seem to have popped up everywhere.
The economy is tanking and newspapers dont have the staff to do it anymore and they rely on these [blogs] and theres no barrier to entry. Someone always knows something. Sometimes people get sick of being the outsider and they want to see if they can be the insider.

Who are your sources? How many little birdies are there?
Theres a lot of them. Theres promoters, people that do event production, bartenders, people that go out or do point-of-sales work and install things in clubs, writers, people in finance. One of the nice things about being the little guy is that people take your side. They get it and there are tons of people more than willing to throw things your way.

What do you think about nightlife these days?
Theres a lack of originality. Part of that is because its easy to copy something, and its expensive to do anything now. Youre trying to find a model that really works. With the cost of real estate, the falling economy, the trouble getting a liquor license, and the cost of goods going up, there are high barriers of entry to get into this game. People are looking for a formula the cocktail speakeasy has been beaten to death. The fact that the guys who did Retreat are doing a cocktail speakeasy on the Bowery can you get any worse than that? Its kind of hard to.

Related: Foodblogger Catfight: Eater vs. Down by the Hipster [Gawker]