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Your restaurant reputation is a key factor in whether guests visit your business or not. With the ever-increasing virality of online reviews and word of mouth marketing, restaurateurs must be vigilant of what is said about their restaurant and how they handle this criticism.
Even the best get bad Yelp reviews:
Restaurant Reputation Mismanagement
There is, perhaps, no better example of restaurant reputation mismanagement than Amy and Samy Bouzaglo of Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona. Their Yelp page has turned into a sounding board of “haters” and “online bullies”, insulting the restaurant’s food and owners.
Strong-willed Amy and Samy have a tendency to stand up for themselves, so when the negative reviews started coming in about their restaurant, they fired back – insulting the reviewers on the restaurant’s Yelp page. Then, in an effort to validate themselves for the Yelpers to see, the couple invited Chef Gordon Ramsay (of the US television show Kitchen Nightmares) and his film crew to confirm that their restaurant was top notch. Unfortunately, Chef Ramsey didn’t agree and abandoned his work with them after two days.
Once the Fox Network aired the Amy’s Baking Company episode, their bad behavior became a meme. Negative reviews have poured in. One Yelp reviewer claims she “only came here because [she] wanted to see all the fighting and screaming.” They’ve made themselves a reputation – and it’s not a good one.
But the Bouzaglos aren’t the only restaurateurs ruining their reputation on Yelp:
Educating the Consumer
Johnny Santiago of Jo’s, in New York City, wrote to one negative reviewer, “It has been said, ‘An educated consumer is our best customer’, clearly you do not fall into this category. You are an idiot.” He goes on to tear down her complaint item by item, finishing with the phrase “…now please go back to where you came from.” While the restaurant holds a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars, an internet takedown is not necessarily the best PR for your restaurant.
Ill-Wishes From The Playground
Playground, Chef Jason Quinn left a profanity-laden response to one negative reviewer, concluding his diatribe with “Burn in hell.”
How to Manage Your Restaurant Reputation Online
To maintain a welcoming restaurant reputation, be sure to:
- Acknowledge Criticism: A Yelp page with complaints and no reply looks like the restaurateur doesn’t care what their guests have to say.
- Address the Issues: If multiple people present with the same complaint, take them seriously. There might be a kernel of truth to the problem, even if it’s an exaggeration.
- Keep Correspondence Cordial: You don’t want to be the crazy restaurateur/restaurant manager/chef who can’t see a problem with their own work. If you disagree with what the guest has to say, thank them for their feedback. Do not use foul language or condemn them to a fiery eternity.