Gravitas Not Closing; The Twitter Rumor Mill Continues to Spin

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It started with a Twitter update from @jimbo126 this past Sunday, July 18: "Per waiter, Gravitas closing after today's bruch service. Sure felt like it - out of half the menu and no bread! Out of SALAD DRESSING."

Before long, what was merely an out-of-context statement had become fact: Montrose-area restaurant Gravitas was closing. For good!

That Gravitas should be the target of such rumors isn't surprising, given the fact that its sister restaurant, Textile, closed its doors suddenly and surprisingly after service on June 27, also a Sunday. Both closures have plenty in common besides being headed up by Scott Tycer -- owner and executive chef -- and being announced on Twitter: They're both untrue.

Much as Textile has ostensibly closed its doors for a summer "vacation" before it moves to a new, as-yet-undisclosed location, Gravitas did close up shop on Sunday, but not for good.

"Deep cleaning and repainting," Scott Tycer said on the phone this afternoon. "We resurfaced the floors in the bar and front entryway: a lot of stuff that a five-year-old restaurant needs to do."

"It's frustrating," Tycer said of the persistent rumors swirling around his restaurants lately.

"It all stems from a Tweet, and I believe it was a vindictive, irresponsible Tweet. We had one of the busiest weekends we've had in six months, so we ran out of stuff on Sunday," Tycer explained. "They were clearly frustrated and said something like, 'A waiter told me they were going to close after brunch.'"

"It just 'viraled' out of control."

The renovations to the Gravitas space shouldn't come as a surprise, as Tycer announced his intentions to start "doing a little remodeling of the space as well as the menu" last month.

Then again, neither should the Twitter rumor mill sparking this latest round of gossip. Lately, it's as if social media is divided squarely into two camps: Facebook and Twitter, the former being the more positive and the latter being a place where moods and conversations can quickly turn vicious and bitter.

"Facebook is all about friends and fans," said Tracy Vaught -- owner of Backstreet Cafe and Hugo's -- over the din at the Ceviche Throwdown this past Monday. Twitter, she lamented, seems to be a place primarily concerned with negativity these days.

Could it be that the highly impersonal and occasionally anonymous nature of Twitter makes it far easier to spread gossip and involve yourself in petty arguments that you'd never have with someone face-to-face? Unlike Facebook, Twitter doesn't hold details about your personal information, your kids' pictures, a link to your grandma's account.

There's a reason, after all, that we wrote a post back in May on the top five Twitter food fights (other than tying it into that week's feature on "The Twitterverse"): They happen all the time. I myself have been involved in several scuffles. And they don't happen on Facebook, nor does the rumor-mongering...at least not to the extent that rumors and other information travels so virally and quickly on the microblogging service.

Tycer, who has a Twitter account but rarely uses it, says that he's a lurker -- seeing what others say and almost never responding. "I listen to people and I marvel at some of the crude and bitchy stuff that's said back and forth. There's no repercussions, and it can end up having very negative effects."

As Twitter increases in popularity and as more foodies, restaurateurs and industry personnel find themselves connecting and participating, the use of Twitter as a high school locker room will no doubt only continue. On one hand, the speed with which legitimate news can be broken and spread is both fascinating and endlessly advantageous.

On the other hand, the extent to which people trust Twitter as a news source is frightening. Can you really believe everything you read? As Scott Tycer has proven twice over in the last few months, you certainly can't.

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