Blogger Banned from Three Maine Restaurants After Writing *Positive* Review

John Golden is no longer welcome at Hugo's, Eventide and The Honey Paw.

On April 15, John Golden, who writes about food and restaurants for Maine Today under the blog name The Golden Dish, was instructed by the co-owner of new Portland restaurant The Honey Paw not to publish an article about his visit. But Golden went ahead with a May 1 posting, and now, all hell is breaking loose.

The journalist received an email last week telling him he was no longer welcome at The Honey Paw and two other Portland restaurants owned by the same group (Hugo’s, Eventide). And today, the Portland Press Herald has picked up this weird story. Weird, because the May 1 review of The Honey Paw that Golden shared was a rave:

Golden said he wasn’t surprised to receive the restaurateurs’ email, because they had given him an ultimatum, but he said the decision to ban him is “ridiculous.”

“[Arlin] Smith said to me, ‘We don’t want you to represent us,’ and I said, ‘I don’t represent anyone. That’s not what a critic is,’” said Golden, who has also written for Downeast magazine, The New York Times, the Boston Globe and Gourmet, as well as the Maine Sunday Telegram.

In an interview at Hugo’s, [co-owners Andrew] Taylor and [Mike] Wiley said they regret that their disagreement with Golden has become public, but they stand by their decision.

“We’re opening ourselves up to criticism,” Taylor said. “There will be people who are going to say, ‘What a bunch of jerks,’ but that’s not necessarily who we are. I’m sure there will be others in the industry who say, ‘Good for you.’ I don’t think we’re alone in thinking John Golden isn’t a particularly professional food writer for this town.”

The paper spoke to a couple of legal and workplace experts, who are divided on whether the ban fits into the general ‘No Shoes; No Shirt; No Service’ privilege. The article also itemizes some of the accumulated issues the trio of restaurateurs has had with Golden’s earlier coverage.