Lettuce reconsider the press release

March 10, 2010

I got a press release yesterday from Lettuce Entertain‚ You, about M Burger, the new burger joint‚ going into the back of Tru, just off of Michigan Avenue, which opens tomorrow. Here is an excerpt:

"M Burger is Michigan Avenue's newest burger joint. If Midwestern beef burgers are what you crave, try them atop an oven fresh bun and your choice of crisp lettuce, griddled onions, Wisconsin cheddar cheese and savory bacon. The signature "M Burger" is slathered with "secret sauce" making each bite one to savor.‚  Golden slim fries cooked in an olive oil blend and chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry milkshakes made from local cream are perfect accompaniments to the melt-in-your-mouth burger."

Really sounds delicious, actually. But I was wondering about the "fries cooked in an olive oil blend" and where, exactly, the "local cream" was from. I was also curious about the "savory bacon." When I emailed the press contact, I got some answers:

The potatoes they're using for the fries, it turns out, are‚ from the Pacific Northwest, and‚ are "higher in iron and have an Earthy, olive oil flavor. They are not cooked in olive oil because we are committed to not cooking with transfat oils," I was told. "We are getting our cream from Elgin Dairy. We've sourced a fresh, thick cut, light smoked American bacon."

Sounds reasonable; a slight mistake on the olive oil claim then. I pressed on the bacon, only to learn that it is "fresh" and "lightly smoked." By the end of the day (actually, just after midnight) Scott Barton, the President of the Fine Dining Division for Lettuce sent me an email, offering to answer any questions directly. I took him up on it this morning when I got to work.

"As of 11:30 p.m. last night, we found out that the Elgin Dairy has been bought," Barton told me. Actually, the dairy was purchased by Dean Foods about a month ago. "So while we're opening with Elgin Dairy cream for our milkshakes, we might not be in a month; we''ll probably have to start all over with another dairy at some point," he told me. Barton says they'll be looking at Fox Valley Dairy, but as of now he's just not sure. Same thing goes for the bacon. "Nueske was just too heavily smoked for us," he said. That means there is no contender for the permanent bacon job. Yet.

This morning, another press release was sent out. That previous paragraph I printed?  Here's the new one:

"M Burger is Michigan Avenue's newest burger joint. If Midwestern beef burgers are what you crave, try them atop an oven fresh bun and your choice of crisp lettuce, onions, Wisconsin cheddar cheese and savory bacon. The signature "M Burger" is slathered with "secret sauce" making each bite one to savor. Golden slim fries and creamy chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry milkshakes are perfect accompaniments to the melt-in-your-mouth burger."

That's more like it.

All of this back-and-forth goes to the point of this posting: if you're going to send out a press release - intended for distribution to the entire world, frankly, and not just your friends and family, wouldn't you make sure the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed? Why not just say, "hey everyone, we're announcing so-and-so restaurant is opening on this date. Here are the hours, and here's the menu." To go into more detail than that, and to make claims about local, seasonal, organic, sustainable, farm-fresh, cage-free, etc. is just putting a spin on an unfinished product.