Last year, L.A. Times critic S. Irene Virbila was praised by The Dallas Morning News for her "endangered" ability to stay under the radar in the age of cell-phone cameras and obsessive food blogs. We’re not really trying to blow up anonymous critics’ spots over here ourselves, lest it affect the public interest. But apparently, Red Medicine doesn’t feel the same way. This morning, Red Meds partner Noah Ellis writes to Grub Street to tell us they kicked Irene Virbila and her party out of their restaurant last night and even posted photos of the critic on their blog. Why ever would they do such a thing?
Ellis says his crew has no respect for what Virbila does and how she does it, claiming that he’s done this for the good of all local restaurant owners (certainly not for Vibila’s own good, considering the scary, red-eyed photo). He goes on to say Virbila has no knowledge of running a restaurant, when indeed, she claims to have run a cafe in college.
We’ve posted Red Medicine’s excuse justification statement below and if you want to see who they allege to be the once anonymous critic, check out the gallery on their website. Meanwhile, we’ll be marking her off the "endangered" list.
From Noah Ellis, co-owner of Red Medicine:
Tonight, in the middle of a particularly hairy service, Irene Virbila arrived for her reservation (4 people under the name “Fred Snow” with a phone number of 310-999-9959), and because we had guests lingering, were not able to sit immediately.
She was recognized, and at while standing by the door, I was able to take this photo of her. At this point, I asked her and her party to leave, as we don’t care for her or her reviews.
Our purpose for posting this is so that all restaurants can have a picture of her and make a decision as to whether or not they would like to serve her. We find that some her reviews can be unnecessarily cruel and irrational, and that they have caused hard-working people in this industry to lose their jobs — we don’t feel that they should be blind-sided by someone with no understanding of what it takes to run or work in a restaurant.
Upon asking her to leave, her husband and dining companions were quite upset, and made mention that this may be illegal and was cruel and unfair. Obviously, she was not discriminated against as part of any protected class, but rather because she is someone we choose not to serve here.
We’re writing this to make everyone aware that she was unable to dine here, and as such, any retribution by her or on her behalf via a review cannot be considered to be unbiased.
We hope that those of you in the industry will support us by coming by for a late-snack or drink (the story is told much better in person), and will use this recent picture to your benefit.
What do you think? Did Red Medicine make the right call here?