What would a hon do in this situation?
The latest chapter in the hon saga is a return to form for Ms. Whiting who, heretofore, had channeled a tendency toward self-promotion into good business. Witness the flamingo incident of 2009, when she turned a dispute over whether she needed a city permit for a giant bedsheet and chicken wire bird that hung over her restaurant into a municipal cause celebre and got a feather boa-decked
Her recent change of heart has hefty commercial and promotional implications of its own. Apparently a year of Baltimoreans yelling at Ms. Whiting wasn't enough to get her to relent, but a few days in the presence of the highly talented and famously vituperative celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay did the trick. Was it simply that she needed to hear it in a British accent, or was it that she recognized the potential to milk her repentance in the warm glow of the TV lights that accompany Mr. Ramsay wherever he goes? She initially made her mea culpa during a radio interview about the episode of Mr. Ramsay's show, "Kitchen Nightmares," which had been filming at Café Hon, and then repeated it at a news conference the show's producers organized at her newly spiffed up restaurant, which reopened to the public Wednesday. Ms. Whiting said business had dropped off 20 percent to 25 percent since the trademarking flap, and no doubt she's hoping that her highly public apology will help her make that up and more.
There's certainly a possibility that Ms. Whiting's apology is insincere, or at least that it is more an attempt at damage control than the product of a new understanding of why people were upset in the first place. Rafael Alvarez, a former Sun reporter, makes the case persuasively in an article on Patch.com in which he writes, "Denise wouldn't listen to us — the people who live here — but she had a change of heart in front of someone who will put her exploitation of real Baltimoreans in several million living rooms," adding, "Once an opportunist, always an opportunist."