An individual going by the name of Kyle Melrose is on a smear campaign, trying to prejudice prominent members of the local media against newly opened restaurants. For months, major Boston restaurant critics and editors have been receiving emails that claim to be written by Kyle Melrose, saying the chef at a new restaurant has been publicly besmirching that individual. Fingers have been pointed and rumors are swirling as to who Melrose might actually be, but so far no one has confessed. Whoever Melrose is, he or she is someone with a vendetta against newly opened restaurants including the likes of The Painted Burro in Davis Square, an innocent victim of Melrose's slander.
While a true pro would keep what rumors they'd heard about their own popularity separate from their assessment of a restaurant's quality, restaurant owners are understandably vexed that someone has been falsely badmouthing influential members of the media in their names. How ironic: someone using anonymity, long the critic's device, to attempt to influence them. Restaurant Critic MC Slim JB is one of those who have been contacted by Melrose, and he shared his thoughts with Eater.
MC Slim JB:
I got this email on February 27, 2012 from someone I’d never heard from before:
From: Kyle Melrose, firstname.lastname@example.org
Only becuase [sic] I like you and what you are doing, you should know I overheard Joe Casanelli [sic], the owner of Posto and Painted Burro really bashing you BIG TIME and very publically [sic]. Was not cool. KM
I quickly replied:
Kyle -- Thanks for the tip! Seems kind of ungrateful, as I've said very nice things about Posto. But it's to be expected: not everyone is going to love you when your job is trying to paint an unbiased picture of restaurants on behalf of consumers.
At first, I took the message at face value, having initially confused “Kyle Melrose” with another Kyle I know casually. Also, it’s easy to believe a restaurateur might be cursing a professional restaurant critic: maybe I had reviewed their place harshly, or hadn’t reviewed it yet (which is the case with Posto and the Painted Burro), or perhaps dissed a previous employer. (For instance, Cassinelli once worked at Stella and Mistral, two venues I’ve occasionally criticized.) As a reviewer, you strive to be fair, honest, thorough and accurate. Earning the enmity of some industry folks is just part of the job.
Then I had an email exchange with Cassinelli’s PR people and they protested it wasn’t true. That got my antennae up... I decided to poll a few other pro critics in Boston. Sure enough, one prominent local reviewer also got a “Joe bad-mouthed you” email from Melrose. Another responded, “That guy? Haven’t heard from lately, but he’s supposedly a local PR guy who trashes competitors and their clients.” The jig was up: I was actually late to the party in recognizing Kyle Melrose as a fraud.
For more on Kyle Melrose, see MC Slim JB's blog.