Rob Moshein - The Austin Wine Guy

No More Tex Mex and I am not your free on demand PR firm.

May 10, 2011

Sometimes, Gentle Reader, yr mst humble & obit svt here gets a tad irate. This morning is one of them. Yet not for the usual reasons…

Last evening, I read an online post from my friend and colleague, Mike Sutter, he of the fair, balanced and sophisticated palate and pen over at the local newspaper. Mike was responding to a blistering telephone conversation with Nora Dodson, the owner of Nueva Onda, a local Mexican food restaurant that was closing after about ten years.

“I was always surprised that having so many regulars that we really didn’t get much coverage at all in the Statesman,” Dodson said. “I kept telling people maybe if I put wheels on the front of my building, we would get some kind of coverage.”  “We’ve been here 10 years and nobody even bothered to come by and talk to us when we were open,” she said. “And you’re calling now that we’re going to be closed?” When I told her I’d been to 500 since I started this job two years ago, she had a comeback for that. “You’re going in alphabetical order? Almost got to the Ns.” are some excerpts of the conversation.

Somebody seems to be eating a large bowl of sour grapes here, Ms Dodson.  First off, I have owned my own business which also closed, so I've stood in your shoes.  I lost my cool with a customer who cancelled a large order of French Burgundy I had already paid for because of the "Freedom Fries" lunacy against France for not supporting (correctly as it turned out) the invasion of Iraq. Been there, done that, kept the t shirt. Its YOUR bad, not anything the press did or didn't do. Own up to that.

Mike wrote a very polite, balanced response which I encourage you to read:

As a fellow wine/food writer/blogger, I have some words to add.  First, Ms Dodson and others: You are not ENTITLED to our free publicity just cuz.  Don't expect it.  I"m not going to just "walk in to talk to you." You have to EARN it and give me a reason. Sorry to be blunt, but there it is and I speak on behalf of all my colleagues.

I've lived in Austin for almost 20 years now. Do I want to read about yet again another umpteenth Mexican restaurant?….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  No.

Your place Ms Dodson is down on So Co. I live up North of UT. Do you have any concept of how many decent/good Mexican places I would drive past to get to yours??  You had a lot of "regulars". Guess what? I've never heard of you and I'm plugged in to the heart of the food and wine community in Austin for the last fifteen years.  None of your "regulars" was giving you many props it seems. Is it somehow MY fault I never heard of you? What did you do to reach out??

Frankly, I'm SICK of Mexican food anyway. Whew, I said that publicly. I've been saying it for years to friends and colleagues.  Heck I'm planning a video rant on the subject. No more "o" peppers!! No ancho, poblano, serrano, jalapeno, habanero, ENOUGH already and IF you use cilantro you had better damn well call it coriander.

I'm not alone.  Most foodie and food writers I know in Austin share this sentiment, although perhaps not to my extreme.  Did you KNOW that Ms Dodson? Do the rest of you? Now you do.

For me, Mexican food kills my palate. I hate my palate burned off with capsicum heat and Scoville numbers and it does not pair with wine at all so spare my your wine list if you serve it. Bring me a Margarita. 

Now to the heart of the matter. Ms Dodson and the rest of you restaurant owners in general, what did YOU do to EARN some attention? Why was your place better, newer, different or something special other than the literally 800 other Mexican joints in town?

Not to pick on Nora Dodson, whom I've never met, alone nor on Mexican, Tex Mex or Barbeque, who are all in that same boat as far as I'm concerned.  To the rest of the restaurants, if you want us to write about you, give us something interesting to say.  Yet another half price happy hour or a new cocktail simply isn't going to cut it, unless there is something REALLY cool/special/newsworthy about your fare.

Just because you are pouring wine at an event isn't going to encourage my attention, unless there is something INTERESTING, NEW, SPECIAL or FUN about what you are doing and/or the wines you are serving.

Please, folks, our job is to inform, educate and entertain our readers.  We are NOT somehow obliged to write about everybody all the time just because you want us to.

You want my attention? Earn it. Step up to the plate and do something. Something great, something fun, something original, something SPECIAL. Opening your doors and sitting there waiting for us "to walk in to talk to you" isn't going to happen unless you give us a good reason.  Mexican food and Barbecue aren't good enough reasons in Austin anymore. We've grown up. You should too.

Wow, I feel so much better now. Thanks Mike.

Rob Moshein
Austin Wine Guy

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