Earlier this week, Andrew Capron, owner of Boner’s BBQ in Atlanta caused quite a ruckus on the internet and in local and national media when he lashed out at a customer on Facebook. The customer, who supposedly stiffed the waitress with $0 tip, posted a negative Yelp review after paying for her meal with a Scoutmob. Capron then fired back with a scathing post on the Boner’s Facebook page, which he has taken down and apologized for.
I’m not here to re-hash the Boner’s fiasco, or to point out that it is weirdly coincidental that Stephanie S.’s Yelp account didn’t exist until she wrote that review that sparked that whole thing.
Ok, maybe I did want to point out that last part.
But what I’m more interested in is the phenomenon of business owners taking the fight back to the customers via the internet.
Sites like Yelp, which I’ve written about before, give diners an open forum to praise or bash restaurants on a whim. No amount of automatic filtering could stop someone from writing an articulate review eviscerating a restaurant simply because they didn’t like the way the manager looked at them. And given that many of us look to these sites when picking our dinner spot on any given night, that can have a real and frustrating effect on the business.
Obviously, Capron’s online outburst is an extreme example. But would Ron Eyester be as well known in Atlanta if it weren’t for his Angry Chef Twitter persona? I don’t think anyone would argue that his humorous jabs at moronic customers won him more fans and notoriety than it cost him, though I’m sure it cost him a few as well. And recently, the Austin Grill in D.C. took to reddit to post their colorful thoughts on one snobby bad tipper’s receipt.
As social media and crowd-sourced websites have grown in popularity, so has the participation of chefs and business owners using such platforms. And, like many Hollywood PR agents must deal with on a daily basis with some of their more reckless and loose-fingered clients, the instant vehicle for information that is Facebook and Twitter makes it easy for the heat of the moment to turn into PR nightmare. I can’t help but think we will see this happening more and more often as owner’s frustrations get the best of them, and venting is only a cell phone app away.
John’s post on the Boner’s backlash received over 200 comments from you all in a matter of hours, and the ratio of Capron supporters was surprisingly high.
But what if this becomes part of our culture in the broader sense? Do you think that you might reconsider stiffing your server if you know there is a chance it might land you on the chef’s Twitter feed? Judging by the up-in-arms bloggers and tweeters out there ready to march on Turner Field on Tuesday, pitchforks and torches in hand, we don’t take it anywhere near as well as we give it out.
Is this a trend where we, the opinionated and infallible masses, may get a taste of our own medicine and be reminded that, perhaps, we are not always right? Or is this just sour grapes from a few isolated hotheads?
- Jon Watson, Food & More blog