Podcast: The return of dining reviews to the AJC

accessAtlanta is your weekly podcast about things to do in and around Atlanta and beyond. This week, we’ll hear from our dining team.

With a small notice on the front page, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this month marked one more step toward post-COVID normal with the return of staff-written restaurant reviews.

Reviews were halted in March 2020, as rapidly rising COVID cases caused restaurants to close their dining rooms and focus on takeout.

“I know that I felt just great excitement to be back inside a restaurant ... breathing a little easier, being vaccinated myself, and to experience what I call the theater of restaurants, the magic of restaurants,” said AJC dining editor Ligaya Figueras, in an interview for the AJC accessAtlanta podcast.

During the first wave of pandemic restrictions, the AJC turned to covering takeout food in a column called Atlanta Orders In. Our weekly Go Guide in published AJC editions was renamed Do Guide to reflect that many Atlantans were avoiding going out in public.

Figueras also looked back on 20 months of change and adaptation in the Atlanta food industry in the podcast, hosted by AJC editor Shane Harrison, with contributor Wendell Brock.

Also discussed in the podcast are how the AJC researches and writes reviews. (“ People go ‘What exactly do you do?,’ or ‘Is it the same thing as a Yelp review,’ and no, it’s not,” Figueras says).

Listeners will hear about the some of changes in the reviews, including no star ratings for now, and some of the nontraditional food businesses that will also included in dining reviews. The inclusion of new kinds of businesses in those reviews is a recognition that the dining landscape has changed, Figueras said.

“And since Wendell and I have each written our first reviews since [March] of 2020 -- I mean, my gosh! We wanted to share a little bit about what we gleaned from our visit and hopefully offer a fews bits of insight that might help folks who are making their own decisions about where they’d like to dine out next,” Figueras said.

About this episode: AJC’s weekly dining reviews are back

After 20 months, the AJC’s weekly dining reviews are back and our dining editor Ligaya Figueras and contributor Wendell Brock will join us to talk about what that means and what readers can expect. Reviews were suspended due to COVID-19 safety concerns and the economic impact of the pandemic on the food-service industry. For the most part, the critiques remain the same, with one exception: no stars for now. Reviews will also address COVID-19 health and safety practices, when appropriate. In addition, coverage may include reviews of nontraditional food-service concepts, including pop-ups in residence, that reflect today’s dining landscape.

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