This Honest Business Owner is my Hero

This Honest Business Owner is my Hero

Every restaurant gets bad reviews from time to time. It’s a well-worn adage that you can’t please everyone. When you are faced with responding to a bad review, do you ignore it, go on the defense, or find out if it was deserved? Read the following review, and ask yourself, does this sound like the typical “princess and the pea” customer who cannot be satisfied, or is it a legitimate complaint?

“My husband and I have eaten all over the world and appreciate good food and dining experiences. I had eaten here years ago with a friend of mine and had a fond memory so decided to suggest it for a date night. We ordered the tapas plate to start and it was absolutely nothing special…not a single thing on it was memorable for it’s $14 pre-meal price tag. We were served popovers which are basically crusted air with no substance while we waited for our main course. We each ordered the specials and they were okay. My husband ordered the pear tart dessert and it didn’t even look appealing and he concurred it didn’t taste much better than it looked. For a tab of nearly $120 for two there are many, many other restaurants in town I would pick many times over before here. It was definitely not worth that.”

Tom Sciortino, managing partner of Wild Sage American Bistro in Spokane, Washington had the misfortune of not only seeing a poor review, but knowing it was deserved because he had dinner in his own restaurant the same night. Tom deserves a reward for good taste in how he responded to his disappointed customer. Here’s what he said”

“Dear Isabella,
After reading your review, I think your score was generous to us. I dined in my own restaurant Sunday night after a theatre production, and had issue with a couple of items myself (granted, I’m a tough critic). I was especially disappointed that my kitchen had decided to run the Pear Strudel after I had asked it be removed on Friday, since I found it underwhelming and not to our standards. I’m not going to kick my own butt any further in this public arena, but suffice to say I am truly saddened that your return visit did not live up to the prior memory. Rest assured, when my chef returned to the restaurant Monday and was presented with this information, he spent a significant amount of time coaching and following up with his crew.

I am very proud of my staff and the consistently great job they do. Your visit was an embarrassing exception and you have my sincere apology. Please contact me at your convenience so that I may have you return as my guest. It would be my pleasure to have the opportunity to show you what “all the hype” is about. Warm regards, Tom Sciortino/Managing Partner”

It would be hard to resist the owner’s offer to return on his dime, after he has been able to address the issues that led to a poor review, and because he took ownership of the complaint rather than defending unusually poor service by simply saying “it happens to everybody sometime”, others who read the review, and the response, are more inclined to give his restaurant the benefit of the doubt.

It’s also important to note that the restaurant only responds to poor reviews, not the great ones. Had they responded to every review, their response to the negative review would not have stood out, and it’s likely that many readers would have only read the first few lines of the review, jumped to a conclusion, and moved on.

June 9, 2014 / Blog, Reputation Management

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Tim is digital marketing strategist and technology solutions architect at ProSocial Marketing, LLC.


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This Honest Business Owner is my Hero