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Mad Chatter

It's difficult enough to open a small business in Richmond. And it's more difficult still to fight the now-inevitable bloggery that follows, with every self-styled critic weighing in on matters big and mundane.

Those critics can not only squelch a squeamish customer base, but also make it more challenging for owners. Two new businesses made their much-delayed debuts last week and bloggers were breathless within hours. Should owners respond or ignore the online commentary?

Infuzion's soft opening in Scott's Addition got immediate scrutiny from online writers, who were mixed in their appreciation for the ice-bar concept. Co-owner Paul Blacker read the stuff and took pains to respond online, encouraging naysayers to give it another try.

"For everyone I gladly accept comments," he wrote, "and want this to be a place that all of us can be proud to have in our area." In a conversation with Style, Blacker was typically enthusiastic: "I think any chatter is good chatter. As long as an owner keeps an open mind, I think there's nothing wrong with the blogs. To be too harsh on opening night is silly, as anyone who's been in the business knows. But I'm fine with it because it gives us a good forum." 1401 Roseneath Road. 249-2665.

In Church Hill, Web-dust was flying the first night Que Pasa opened, with a handful of neighbors giving their impressions of the Cuban eatery that was previously best known for taking not months but years to open because of zoning issues.

Blogger criticisms of the restaurant's opening-night glitches were balanced with praise for the food. Owner John Sanchez says the crowd was beyond belief: "They came, they saw, they ate everything, every dessert, every piece of chicken, everything." He called in more recruits and now serves lunch and dinner daily, with brunch added Sundays. A liquor license is pending. 623 N. 25th St. 402-7502.

Moshi Moshi in Carytown opened earlier this month to enthusiastic sushi-lovers. Victor Srikusalanukul, also of Sumo San in Shockoe Bottom, poured heart and soul into the new place at 3321 W. Cary St., designing the ultra-hip interior and even painting the walls and installing fixtures. It has two fireplaces, tables and a massive bar downstairs with premium sakes and an intimate dining room upstairs. Upscale traditional Japanese cuisine includes hibachi dishes and other specialties. Lunch and dinner are served daily. 359-1151.

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