In a time where restaurants are struggling to stay open—given stay-at-home mandates and recent delays in opening restaurant dining rooms—food writers (specifically restaurant critics) are faced with a pretty hard question: Is it appropriate to do restaurant reviews right now?
Restaurant critics can be crucial for restaurant-goers to find some of the best restaurants to dine at in the industry. It's what separates the good from the great, and help customers make decisions about where they should go out to eat.
The Infatuation, a popular app and online publication that informs others about restaurants in major cities, recently made the announcement that they are removing the number ratings from their media outlets.
"Restaurants are facing the most profound changes and challenges in their existence," wrote Hillary Reinsberg, editor-in-chief of The Infatuation, in a post on their website. "How could we possibly go in and fairly rate them within the next year? Or the next two years? Would our old ratings be accurate? Today and in the near future, rating restaurants on a numerical scale is not the best way to use our platform, and it's not particularly useful to anyone."
In an essay published on Eater, a restaurant critic wrote an article about how he isn't dining out at the moment, and since writing it, hasn't sat in a restaurant in over 122 days. He writes about how restaurant workers have suffered at the hands of this virus because of the reality of this industry, and how it would be tone-deaf to review anything right now.
"I think about how scores of restaurant workers have died, and how those that have recovered are going back to work without knowing whether they'll fall ill again," writes Ryan Sutton in his essay. "You should instead stick to takeout. I make that suggestion with a heavy heart."
He then explains how different well-known restaurant critics from publications around the country have also made the same call, to put a pause on their usual work.
With major publications halting reviews and critics taking a backseat, we have to ask ourselves, could restaurant reviews be gone for good? Even though dining out at a restaurant is a pleasure for most, at the moment, it has also become a way to support others in the restaurant industry who are in need. Even Grubstreet suggests paying upwards of 50% for tips.
Only time will tell in regards to how the restaurant industry will survive after the pandemic, but for now, restaurant critics are leaving their pens capped.
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