This is another whiny post from a chef/restaurateur about posting reviews on social networking or reviewing sites. I'm leaving aside bloggers because, well, I'm one, and because (most) bloggers are accessible, identifiable and willing to engage in constructive, open dialog. Some "foodie" or social networking sites, however, offer a much greater degree of anonymity, and often, no dialog.
I read a review of my restaurant on one of these that was irksome on so many levels. The post is dripping with passive-aggressiveness (not that that is in short supply around these parts) and really backhanded. The guy lives locally and I read some of his other reviews. On another place, that admittedly has some major service problems, he lambastes them and says in his review he wishes someone there would read the site and do something to change things. Hello, jackass. Go in there, talk with the owner and express yourself like a concerned ex-customer if you really want to fix things.
I know I'm not telling my readers anything they don't already know, but just in case someone is stumbling upon this blog and needs the reminder here goes. When you are evaluating your restaurant experience I want you to make a major assumption. Unless you are at an obviously corporate owned place, please assume that there is a person, group of persons, or family that owns the restaurant and is counting on the place to earn them a living.
Given that assumption, some other assumptions can follow. It is relatively safe to assume that these persons want you to be happy. That these persons want you to return. Often. Even in the most touristy of locales, where the diners may only come once in a lifetime, that owner wants you to be happy. The owner wants you to go home and tell all your friends what a great time you had. Because the owner wants your friends to come and be happy also.
So, if you're not happy, tell the owner. Believe me, the owner wants to know. And believe me, the owner wants to do something about it. Telling the manager is great, telling the server is great, but please, please, please, tell the owner.
With that major assumption in mind, before you post on that "foodie" site, ask yourself, "Have I told the owner about this?" Because if you haven't, you have no business putting things on-line. And you definitely have no business putting things on-line, "hoping" the owner will read the post, take notice and do something about it. Especially in a small town, especially to a restaurant that clearly needs help and clearly isn't computer savvy.
I'll recover. I've got great press, a great crew, great word of mouth and that continues, despite the occasional blowhard who spouts off before trying to let me make him happy. The other place, the only review is his. And that's going to hurt them.
This applies to any business, people. If there's a problem, resolve it. Don't complain about it to people who can't resolve it like your friends, your mom, or the internet. Tell the owner. The quality of everyone's experience will rise.