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Why Did LA Weekly Republish the Late Jonathan Gold’s Olive Garden Review?

An odd choice, given Gold’s love of the local places

City of Gold Documentary
Jonathan Gold
City of Gold Documentary
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

What the fresh heck? LA Weekly, the embattled alt-weekly publication currently facing a lawsuit from a former owner over allegations of fiscal mismanagement and journalistic erosion, has decided to run a tribute of sorts to the late Jonathan Gold, who died earlier this year. The Weekly’s post is ostensibly a celebration of Gold’s “elevated food criticism” from the time he spent at the paper, but the only review they’ve actually decided to rerun from the Pulitzer Prize-winner is a stunt essay on Olive Garden.

That’s right. One of America’s most prolific former critics, who spent decades championing small, family-run restaurants, has been reduced in the pages of his old publication to a review about a chain Italian restaurant.

The odd post is ostensibly an acknowledgement of LA Weekly’s decades-long history, with a running headline that reads: “Over 40 Years, L.A. Weekly Has Reviewed Both the High and the Low When It Comes to Food.” Except the story does not actually link out to the Gold pieces that would best fit that mold, like his ode to El Atacor #11’s inexpensive and delicious potato tacos, which was included in the package the committee used when giving Gold the Pulitzer Prize.

What’s more, food section editor Michele Stueven even added Gold’s name to the byline on last week’s Weekly story, despite his having died back in July.

Meanwhile over at the Weekly, an ongoing boycott from former writers and much of the media at large has left the publication reportedly hobbled. A former co-owner of the paper has filed suit against Semanal Media and publisher Brian Calle that alleges a slew of improprieties, including running unattributed positive reviews for cannabis companies that Calle was also being paid to represent. On the food front, editor Michele Stueven came under fire this year for a cancelled food event and for a curious 99 Essential restaurant list that included restaurants that at the time had not even opened to the public.