Social Review

Those of you that know me, know that social media is a big part of my life. I enjoy engaging with people and hearing feedback on my restaurant, positive and negative. I am in an industry where it is absolutely impossible to make everyone happy. Or even close to everyone, but, I definitely want to try, and like to hear the negative press, to make me better.

I have thought about this for a long time. My take on the type of site that allows users to go in post a review of a restaurant or business. The two most popular are Urban Spoon and Yelp.  There are others, but these are the most common.  While I do think these types of sites are good to a degree, I think that some things should be taken with a grain of salt.  Very rarely do I see mentions of people who have problems with a restaurant, show that they discussed it with a manager to try and have the problem resolved. Please understand the point of having a restaurant is to have people in, enjoy themselves, and return with friends and family.  We do not wish for anyone to not enjoy their visit.  So please, SPEAK UP, when in the restaurant.  There is a number of things that can be done while you are there for us to be able to correct the problem and make you happy.  It drives me crazy to hear about how someone didn’t like anything at a particular place, yet, they did nothing to bring it to anyones attention except go home and blog about it.

Speculation-I see a lot of people who offer their own insight or speculation as to what the issues are at a place.  For example, one post on Urban Spoon about Iguana says “My only complaint is the slow/sad service, I’m guessing it’s a management issue after talking with a former employee.” What do you mean after talking with a former employee? Are you conducting interviews? Or  because one person said something, then that becomes fact? Has anyone ever left a job they didn’t like? Or didn’t like their boss? I mean, wouldn’t you still work there if you loved it? Our staff retention is among the highest in the city.  Kitchen staff has had zero turnover since July 2009, I mean zero, not one person hired or fired, can you find a restaurant that can tell you that?  As far as Waitstaff, of the 25 I employee, 17 have been there 6 months or longer, and 8 have been there since opening almost two years ago. Not too shabby for a business known for its high turnover.  I don’t want to sound  high and mighty, but, I do have a lot of pride in the way that our staff is treated.  Paid vacation, lots of incentives, I mean I took all of them out for the Superbowl! Who does that? In summary, how can you speculate something with no actual fact to back it up.

Any way back to the original rant, I do want to have honest feedback about the restaurant, but don’t want people to just go and write “Gross” “inedible”, “horrible”, why did you not allow someone to try and fix it? My guess is some people just want to have something to gripe about. I just want to be able to connect with these people while they are dining and correct the problem.  I have had great successes in “winning” over clients this way.  That’s all I’m asking is please give us a chance to correct our wrongs before going and writing publicly about it.

My other problem is validity.   This gives people an open forum, to vent and rant about anything without any proof that they have actually been there.  It could be a competitor, or someone who just has nothing better to do and write a review to see others fail of get bad press. Maybe they are jealous of a particular persons success? I don’t know.  Tell me your thoughts.

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~ by chefrp on 02.20.10.

13 Responses to “Social Review”

  1. Some people are just miserable and downright negative. They’ll gripe about anything to make their crappy life seem better. Yet these people seem to think they’re food critics. They’re critics but critics of the wrong kind.

    They should be their own self critic but it’s easier to gripe and complain about others rather then their own miserable lives. Although chances are they gripe about that too.

  2. I think the X factor here is the element of the unknown – I’ve got a background in foodservice (mostly HS/college QSR + restaurant 20+ years ago), so I’m generally not reticent to comment…and I try to mention something when things are going great as well as when things need attention. But I think there’s a certain cultural element to not “rocking the boat” if you’re not sure how the staff/mgmt will react. My wife is mortified whenever I speak up (having been on the other side, I’m always as gracious as possible) and she’d rather keep her trap zipped, give the lousy waiter a big tip and never return – and that doesn’t help anybody.

    I applaud you for your transparency and for you being an active owner who truly welcomes immediate feedback and immediate solutions to issues. I think the best you can do is to maintain that attitude and to share with every customer the fact that your ear is always available.

  3. Good points here. Social media has not only elevated the potential for networking/friendship and other good things but also allowed naysayers and haters to have a louder voice. Nice rant.

  4. I think it is true that a lot of people don’t like confrontation and when they encounter something they don’t like in public they are liable to be angry about it but refuse to try and have the issue resolved. They feel more comfortable complaining to their friends/family about it and now more increasingly, just writing about their experience online. There is, however, a fine line between giving constructive criticism and just plain being a terrible customer who cannot be satisfied and makes a scene in public. Aren’t those the most annoying? I think you’ve brought up a very valid point Chef, and I hope more people step up like this – there’s always room for improvement and it takes everybody’s input to get there.

  5. Bravo. Great post. I think it would be great to have managers owners tied to an admin side on those apps where they could personally connect to people that leave comments. Give the owners / manager more direct presence in yelp and urban spoon if they wanted it.

    Appreciate you man!

  6. well said Chef Ryan! as someone who has worked with you AND has been a customer, i can testify to the way you treat your staff and your guests. trust me people, nobody does it better.

    if you want local businesses to succeed, you gotta help us to help you.

  7. As a fan of pacifism, I can tell you that if I wasn’t in the business of writing about food, I wouldn’t say anything unless the situation was egregiously bad. Much like Brian, my wife doesn’t like to say anything if the food is bad or the service sucks. I, on the other hand, will muster my courage and tell a waiter or waitress when things are bad or even when they’re not very good. I figure, if I’m man enough to write it down, I ought to be accountable for saying it to somebody’s face.

    I think a couple of issues you overlook are:

    1) Fear of the angry restaurateur. A lot of people, me included, are fearful of a “Soup Nazi” type who cannot take criticism and might yell at them in front of other customers. It might be a stereotype, but chefs are not known for their cool demeanor or love of critics.

    2) Over compensation. There are too many people who complain just to get free stuff. I hate those people. I think it’s OK to have valid criticism and leave it at that, but a lot of people yell and make a fuss until the meal is comped. I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t even want to give people the chance to think I’m that guy. So I try to be honest and I try to find something to compliment, so I don’t feel like people think I’m just tearing everything down hoping for a free meal.

  8. It seems like people are more likley to go online to complain and not to praise, and probably because most reasonable people would raise the same objections you did – (“Well, did you say anything to your waiter/the GM/the chef?”) I would rather ask around my peer group that knows all of the best places to eat in OKC than to read anonymous reviews online. And I’ve never had a poor experience at Iguana, for what it’s worth.

  9. I work for a QSR chain and we also view social media as a gift to handle a complaint differently. We have the opportunity to give our local restaurants a chance to respond to customers who had a less than stellar experience & ranted in the space. So, we monitor, monitor, monitor and while we’ll reach out from a corporate level, we give the complaint directly our local folks for follow up, as is our standard practice. So far, we’ve received good comments and feedback from customers.

  10. Love the writting so much I posted it on yelp!

    http://www.yelp.com/topic/oklahoma-city-iguana-chef-reviews-yelp

    One of the regulars replied back with a great article. You should read it.

    P.S. Iguana does a tremendous job! I bring people there all the time!

  11. AMEN!!!I spent 17 years in restaurants and what left me torqued more than someone sending stuff back so consistently you started to get the idea they were after free food (worked for one owner kick out & ban a group for that) was people that wouldn’t let us fix the problem that night. The table would make donkey’s backsides of themselves, but refuse to let anyone try & make it right. Yes, my pride may be a bit wounded the item didn’t go out right the first time, but I’m more hurt when I’m not allowed the chance to do anything to try and fix the problem.

    Elwelleats: Being a pacifist doesn’t mean one can’t stand up for themselves & get what they asked for. You are the one ordering & paying for the evening, you SHOULD expect to get what you want/ordered. Pacifist does NOT equal Pushover.

    Chef, if I had more chefs/owners like you, I would probably still be in the industry. Good on ya!

    P.S. I still want to come down and play sometime.

  12. -i give my full respect to this rant and the faceless fact less information out there. – I have noted complete lies out their. Who would lie what comes around goes around u get what u give. Reviews should be honest based on facts with examples give up the personal emotional rants and no racism please. Real people see through the lies and as someone that always gives a place 3 tries and never bitch cuz then your a bitch it might be u that’s causing the problem we humans not so perfect and in this industries we reach for perfection.

  13. First off I want to thank Milia Monacia for posting her thoughts and a link to her website. ;)

    Second… I’m vocal at establishments, in a polite way, and DO share when we are not satisfied with service, food, etc… Sometimes management does take care of the situation and other times not. When they do not, I’m vocal. Shoot, it’s how we met, Chef. YOU took care of the situation and made it right when your staff didn’t.

    My main point here: A person who is socially negative when it’s bad better be LOUD and POSITIVE when it is good.

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