See the dude to the left? That is Wade Randolph Hampton, marketing director for N9NE Steakhouse. You “know” Wade if you read the comment section under this post below. Yes, I know he sounds like one crazy dude—angry, resentful, mean, and vindictive. Guess what? He’s a pussy cat. Yesterday, I called Wade to find out what he was so dang mad about. Below I attempt to put our long conversation into interview form. Jump for the whole N9NE yards.
NN: What are you so mad about?
WRH: I’m not mad.
NN: You sent us a press release announcing Mike Modano as a “spokesman” for N9NE. We reported the information and posted the picture you attached. Then, after three reader comments–one asking why Modano wasn’t wearing his wedding ring–you went off on, what I would call, a rant. Do you feel like you’ve committed professional suicide?
WRH: Hey, we [N9NE] don’t have a firm or an agency of record representing us anymore. My feeling is [PR] agencies in Dallas are beholden to the local press and they are too worried about what they [media] say so they don’t get their jobs done. Now, I don’t have a client list so this isn’t professional suicide for me. My bosses stand behind me. I’ve been doing PR for the recording and film industry for 20 years.
NN: Why take it out in the comments section of a blog? Don’t folks who comment ob blogs have the “right” to express how they feel about the advertising campaign you, Wade Randolph Hampton, styled and wrote? Why did you say, “Sleep well tonight [D Magazine] knowing you did everything you could to drag down employees of a quality restaurant during a bad economy”? How was that statement relevant to the Modano news?
WRH: Sure, everyone has a right to their opinion and I do too. So I posted. I don’t have the luxury of a blog to defend [N9NE & Ghostbar] so I post whenever something negative [happens]. The point is, your [D] statements about N9NE have categorically been negative press. We have to make things work to our way. We don’t have anything to lose [by posting]. How much more bad press can we endure? I mean the Observer called our waitresses Space Hookers. [Ed note: I can’t find the reference on the Observer site. Dave Faires says he didn't write it.]
NN: A couple of weeks ago you posted that N9NE did 400 covers in one night. It sounds like business at N9NE isn’t all that bad.
WRH: I have some waitresses making $100 grand a year. A couple of weeks ago, two split a $27,000 tip.
NN: Excuse me? Are you accepting applications?
WRH: [Laughs] We are losing millions of dollars here. I just hope this Victory stuff will start happening. It is just shocking to me how the Dallas press is so negative about anybody coming in from Las Vegas and blowing up the negative Las Vegas part–like we’re loud. Hey, I’m not from Las Vegas, I’m from Dallas. Our core staff isn’t from Las Vegas. I feel sad that all you [media] want is home-grown stuff and outside stuff is not accepted.
NN: Well, I’m sure a lot of those millions were lost when [sister restaurant] Nove went out of business. D Magazine published a positive review on our experience at Nove. Maybe what you call bad publicity has been good for N9NE?
WRH: Listen, when Dallas [N9NE] opened, they were number one in numbers for the first year—against Chicago and Las Vegas.
NN: Wait, you mean when N9NE opened in 2007, you did bigger numbers than those restaurants in 2007?
WRH: Well, no when they [Chicago and Las Vegas] first opened.
NN: When was that?
NN: Do you think, given the time span, that is a fair gauge? I mean ten years ago, a steak wasn’t $49.
WRH: Oh, that’s a good point. I guess I better go back and look at that.
NN: Dude, I gotta say you really don’t hold back. I’m starting to like you.
WRH: Hey, come on over and have some tequila. I’m not out to make enemies. I’m honest and I’m not afraid to say what’s on my mind.