Alibi V.22 No.36 • Sept 5-11, 2013 

The Mouthful

Curse of the Alibi Impostor

Somewhere in the naked city he prowls, seeking a restaurant for his next target. Finding a likely café, he slips inside, takes a table and … begins to complain. About the food. About the service. About the atmosphere. He complains about it all until the desperate server sends out a manager to deal with him. At the sight of someone with authority, he escalates, perhaps angling for some sort of freebie. If the comp is denied, he rises from the table and, just before he storms out, shouts “I work for the Weekly Alibi. And I’m going to destroy you!”

Disturbingly, I’ve fielded a few phone calls from concerned restaurant owners describing this very scenario. But, as I told them, the only thing I know about this devious stranger is that he is not one of our reviewers. And if he were, he would be fired immediately. That’s simply not how we do things.

In the interest of clearing our good name and generally providing some insight into how our review process works, I’ve decided, for the first time, to reveal a portion of the Secret Code of the Alibi Food Reviewer as passed down to me from the cabal of Nucity oracles.

Disturbingly, I’ve fielded a few phone calls from concerned restaurant owners describing this very scenario. But, as I told them, the only thing I know about this devious stranger is that he is not one of our reviewers.

We hold these two principles as sacred:

1. Honesty: Our reviews are here to serve the reader (and eater), and as such we pride ourselves on being completely honest about our experience. If a joint’s burgers are top notch, we tell you. If their duck salad is sub par, we tell you. More importantly, our reviewers tell you why they loved or hated a dish in as much detail as possible so the reader can see for themselves how she or he formed that opinion. That also means that we don’t allow mean-spiritedness to influence our articles. In other words we would never allow a reviewer to try to “destroy” a restaurant out of spite.

2. Anonymity: Our reviewers do not ever announce their affiliation with the Weekly Alibi when they are at a restaurant. To do so would jeopardize one of the key tenets of our review process: We seek out the same experience that any other diner is likely to have. Think about it; if a restaurant owner (or manager or server) knows that the woman at table 5 is going to turn her dinner into a 1,000-word article for the state’s best alt-weekly newspaper, chances are he’s going to do his absolute best to make sure that dinner goes as well as possible. And, sadly, that’s just not the kind of treatment that every customer can expect.

With these two principles to guide us, it should be obvious that there’s no room in our process to get into verbal altercations with restaurant staff or owners, much less threaten them with a nasty review.

In a way I suppose it’s kind of flattering that someone would try to use our name to make themselves feel important. But frankly, we don’t want the Weekly Alibi associated with the kind of pathetic nobody who would try to pull off such a stunt. So, Mr. Alibi Impostor, whoever and wherever you may be: Please stop. From here on out, you’ll only be embarrassing yourself.