Georges Kitchen and Loft: Publicity Stunt, Defamatory Remarks, or Customer Conflict?
Georges Kitchen was the scene of a weekend altercation.
A website called Georgeskitchenattackedme.com was launched recently by a Miami man who claims he was attacked at Georges Kitchen and Loft by owner Georges-Eric Farge. The site, which currently has three posts, is written by Ricardo Barea, a DJ and self-admitted foodie who also has a restaurant review blog called ForkU.
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He says he and a date went to Georges Kitchen for dinner when Farge attacked him verbally and pushed him. Barea says he called police, who wrote up a report, though no arrests were made. Barea then built the website, chronicling the event and the aftermath. Most recently, he has demanded Farge release footage of the incident that might have been recorded on the restaurant's security cameras.
Is this a story of a restaurateur who took an argument too far with a patron? Or is it an attempt to gain publicity and/or money in a society that gives merit to frivolous lawsuits?
Short Order contacted Barea through his DJ Dimarco website and spoke with him about what started the incident and what led Barea to build the website.
Barea said he and a date went to Georges to review it for his food blog, ForkU.
"Every time there's a new restaurant, I try to cover it. I like to write, so my friends and family can experience what I experienced. I'm not trying to make it a revenue-creating blog. It's just interesting to me," he said.
Barea arrived about 7 p.m. without reservations. "It was completely empty, but they said all the tables were reserved. Georges, the owner/manager, took us upstairs and told us to have a drink and he would work something out. They wanted to take us to the bar, basically."
Barea and his date had a drink and an appetizer, and after about 45 minutes, Farge came up and said a table was ready.
"He took us to the downstairs bar. It was just another bar. He said this was the bar table, and I said what about all the other tables that were available? He said, 'That's all I have,' and he walked away.
"At that point, I talked with my date and we decided to not eat at the bar. We started leaving and I saw Georges at the door and I told him I felt very discontented and badly treated by service staff and him and that I was going to have to give an honest rendition on my blog.
"I hate to say this, because it sounds so alarmist, but he got so upset that his restaurant would be seen as how it really is. He looked at me and said, 'If you do this, I'm going to destroy you.' The fact is that he reacted in a violent way and in a bigoted way. It became a power trip for him, and he tried to physically and verbally intimidate me. I told him at that point that I'm going to write about that too. That's when he head-butted me almost into traffic."
At that point, Barea called police. Two officers arrived and questioned all parties. No arrests were made, but a police report was filed. Barea told Short Order that when the altercation happened, there were no witnesses.
"The host and people were on the inside of the restaurant. I tried to have a discussion in a nice way; then [Farge] sent his people in before he escalated it. The restaurant has a camera. We're trying to get the footage."
Barea said he started the website because he has a digital media background, so it made sense.
"The whole goal is not to sue someone. I'm just trying to report an incident. It's almost like a violation of my First Amendment rights.
"I'm just trying to let my community know that he treats a couple like this. He treats people who pay money to eat at his restaurant like this. I'm a peaceful person. I try to avoid conflict. But this gentleman... he's using gay bashing in our diverse community and he's being physical. The fact that he doesn't respect the First Amendment, the fact that he uses physical violence. Today it's me. Tomorrow it could be you. Maybe it would turn out worse."
Asked if Farge or any of his representatives has contacted him since the incident, Barea replied, "Nope."
Short Order also contacted Georges Kitchen's PR firm, which forwarded us to Farge's attorney, Rolando Diaz. Diaz said the website is "nothing but a publicity stunt" by a blogger. Diaz told Short Order that Farge has been in business 30 years and that in that time nothing like this has happened.
Diaz described a different set of events last Saturday evening. He said that, according to Farge, Barea was talking loudly in front of a roomful of patrons.
"Farge asked him to quiet down, the police showed up. There was no corroboration of what happened. The police reviewed everything. They found no injuries. They asked him if he was hurt and he said no. Then two days later he goes to the doctor?
"Here's what I can tell you. Does any of this make any sense? According to this man, the restaurant is completely empty and Georges doesn't want to seat him. He makes someone wait 45 minutes. He [says he] was attacked, and he has no single piece of evidence that he was attacked. It is a categorical lie. Simple logic. It is the epitome of what is wrong with society. You may think he's allowed to do this, but the Internet is not a place where you can cyber-bully people."
Asked if he would try to shut down the website or press charges, Diaz declined to comment, but he did say he would not "entertain this man much longer."
"It's all defamatory. It's fraud. This is not a game."
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