Eli Rosenberg, writing at the Washington Post:
It was a unique restaurant in London and certainly the hardest to get into. And it beat out thousands of upscale restaurants in the city to earn the top ranking on the popular review site TripAdvisor for a time, drawing a flood of interest.
There was just one small problem: It didn’t exist.
This entire piece is fascinating and I recommend reading it in its entirety.
To put this story into a broader context though, I’ll tell a story. I’m listening to an audio recording of Shoe Dog whilst running and my mind’s been blown by how easy it was to fabricate businesses and locations in the 1960s. Oregonian Phil Knight, who would later become the founder of Nike, flew to Japan in his mid twenties and told shoe company Onitsuka Tiger that he wanted to be a distributor of its Tiger shoe in the Pacific Northwest. When asked what his company name was, he replied, “Blue Ribbon.” Blue Ribbon was a nonexistent entity that Phil made up on the spot. This was pre-internet; the world was a big place, and there wasn’t a way for Onitsuka to verify whether such a legal entity existed or not. Onitsuka agreed to sell Phil’s postulated company a thousand Tiger shoes at wholesale, whilst Phil flew back to Oregon and scrambled to create the company Blue Ribbon. Later, when Onitsuka was concerned that Blue Ribbon wasn’t a big enough U.S. distributor compared to Blue Ribbon’s competitors, Phil countered this by saying that Blue Ribbon was represented on both coasts, which wasn’t true. Skeptical, Onitsuka said it would ship Phil’s newest shoe order to its east coast address, to which Phil replied that he would wire the exact address shortly. He promptly had one of his employees go and create a Blue Ribbon store in Boston, then he wired Onitsuka the address.
In the internet era, Phil Knight’s fabrication would be harder to pull off; but Oobah Butler’s fabrication was only possible because of the internet.
You can’t trust everything you encounter on the internet, but that law applies just as much offline.