On September 5th, new Philadelphia restaurant gossip site StaphMeal.com appeared on the scene. And since then, they haven’t made many friends. The bloggers (we use “bloggers” plural because they claim to be more than one person) have recently taken aim at the generally beloved Marc Vetri (including some seriously low-blow mockery of his speech impediment), chef-without-a-restaurant Shola Olunloyo and Le Bec-Fin’s Georges Perrier, calling him a racist among other things. And they’ve done all of this from behind the cozy shield of internet anonymity.
Frankly, we weren’t going to mention the site at all because, well, it was just a bunch of mean-spirited, poorly punctuated ranting and the internet is already full of drivel like that. But now things have gotten a bit more interesting.
Earlier this week, Vetri himself publicly called out @staphmeal via Twitter: "Stop your hurtful nonsense now or you will be outed. Try and create something positive." Subsequently, StaphMeal's Twitter account was suspended--a decision that the creators say they are appealing. (They've since opened another.)
And then today, Perrier's attorney, Jonathan M. Cohen, told Foobooz that legal action against the blog is imminent. "There's a lot being done in the background here to find out who these people are, hiding behind the anonymity of the blog," he reported. "I don't expect them to remain anonymous for long, let me put it that way."
But the creators--one of whom I interviewed today over Gmail Chat--don't seem to be concerned. "We are not worried about legal issues," wrote one. "A. We have a pretty good attorney. B. To unmask a anonymous blog takes a lot almost a legal act of god."
As for the bloggers' identities, commenters have accused two individuals of being behind the site. When I brought up those names during the interview, I was told, "we don't even know who the hell those people are! We do think though that it sucks for them. I think who ever made that accusation without valid proof is an asshole."
Attorney Cohen seems confident about the outcome: "It's a pretty clear cut case of defamation--they are basically admitting to malice," he says. "Their intention is to hurt people. That's it. They claim to have legal counsel and, if so, it had better be pretty amazing."