Sure, a controversy blew up at the Rammy Awards Sunday night, but was it an awesome one in which people get punched and maybe arrested? Nope. Restaurateur Jeff Black gave a speech containing a dig directed toward no one in particular about how the night was not about the bloggers but rather about the hard-working folks in the industry. Which is to say, a factually accurate statement given that it's an award ceremony for the restaurant industry.
Bloggers, though, were naturally upset, expressing their outrage through Twitter and attending the after-party at Black's bar Black Jack. In the time since, Black tried to clarify his statements, only to prompt reactions that it was Washington politics as usual. Then he issued an email apology to "the blogging and media community" that kind of apologizes in the sense that he points out that he probably wasn't even talking about these particular bloggers anyway. But, of course, many were still not pacified.
Finally, last night Black wore a shirt declaring his love for bloggers to an event last night, while freelance writer Nevin Martell declares that there's "no animosity from either side" — though he's totally still going through with custom t-shirts that read, "Jeff Black Hates My Blog."
So, to recap, maybe the bloggers aren't really mad. Maybe Jeff Black isn't really sorry. Maybe he actually likes — nay, loves — bloggers. And maybe nobody really cares, so here's hoping it's all over. Anyway, here's Black's letter.
To the blogging and media community,
I certainly apologize if my comments at the RAMMY awards were upsetting and I am sorry they were taken out of the context I intended. The point I was trying to make is about the underappreciated people in our industry. Have you ever cleaned a toilet you didn’t own? Scrub pots of food you were not allowed to taste. Clean a table that the food and drink from were more expensive than you can afford. Many of us in the restaurant business have. It’s where we start and hopefully with enough dedication we prosper.
The truth of the matter is I should have directed my comments to people who use the internet as a Bully Pulpit to deride or denigrate many in the restaurant business. Not the trophy chefs and restaurateurs (who should have thick enough skin to take critical comment in stride), but the people who really make the industry work. Countless times nameless, faceless "Posters" on food blogs deride waiters, bartenders and other restaurant employees without thought of the consequences or the commitment these people make every day.
At Black Restaurant Group we support blogs that celebrate Hospitality, That support The Local Food Scene, that spotlight farms and farmers and all the hard work they do. What we don’t support are people who come to the restaurants and make threats of negative posts for "freebies" or to skirt the rules. (You can call me anytime and I will give a laundry list of outrageous behavior from certain people, cell [redacted]). Again I do humbly apologize if my comments where taken out of context. I was merely trying to stand up for the people that make my company the success that it is.
Black Restaurant Group
Jeff Black [Photo: @PearlDiveDC]