Massive Botch in Rocky Mountain News' Gaslamp Grill Review

A single glance at the corrections space in the Saturday, July 12 Rocky Mountain News told readers how egregiously the tab had screwed up in relation to its July 11 critique of Lakewood's Gaslamp Grill. While the Rocky has long done an admirable job admitting to its errors, the acknowledgements typically run without headlines. In this case, though, a banner read, "Review of Gaslamp Grill Mistaken About Chef" -- specifically, Scott Hybbeneth (pictured), who was blamed for what reviewer Lori Midson felt was second-rate grub despite the fact that he hasn't worked at the Gaslamp for about five months. The online correction contains another surprise, revealing that the Rocky has taken the unusual step of removing the article in question from its website.

What did it say? Read on.

"A Dim View of Gaslamp's Fare" puts Hybbeneth front and center even though he was long gone during the period Midson covered. Some lowlights from her piece:

At this point in his career, Scott Hybbeneth should be on top of his game, stamping his name far and wide and turning out memorable meals that make you want for more. Instead, he's creating some of the most uninspiring food I've had all year at the Gaslamp Grill...

Hybbeneth... has plenty of formidable experience. The question is: What's he doing with? And after repeated visits to the Gaslamp Grill, the answer appears to be, not a whole lot.

Mighty tough words -- and mighty inaccurate ones, as the correction points out. It reads:

A restaurant review on this page mistakenly said that Scott Hybbeneth is the chef at the Gaslamp Grill in Lakewood. Hybbeneth, a veteran chef on the Denver area restaurant scene, has not worked at the Gaslamp Grill since he left in February to join a different restaurant. The reviewer was critical of the Gaslamp Grill’s food, and of Hybbeneth’s supposed role in its poor quality. But Hybbeneth had resigned as chef months before any of the reviewer’s five visits in late June. The error occurred because two servers on two different visits told the reviewer and her guests that Hybbeneth was the executive chef. Reviewer Lori Midson regrets the mistake. The Rocky Mountain News apologizes for the error.

The story was removed from RockyMountainNews.com.

The correction is accompanied by justifiably scathing comments that were presumably affixed to the initial review, including one from Stori Hybenneth, Scott's wife, excoriating the Rocky -- and parenthetically giving a back-pat of sorts to Westword's food critic, Jason Sheehan:

In an industry where it takes 80 hour work weeks to build a reputation it is beyond irresponsible to publish such a scathing article before having the facts straight. At least Jason Sheehan calls the executive chef to find out if there are any extenuating circumstances before publishing a negative review. In the future, I recommend Ms. Midson take the extra 15 minutes to make one or two additional phone calls to outside sources before trashing a reputation that takes years to build.

Good idea. Lucky for the Rocky that Hybbeneth reportedly has another gig, or else his fingers might be walking through the attorney listings about now. -- Michael Roberts

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