What to do About a Bad Restaurant Review

What to do About a Bad Restaurant Review
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What to do About a Bad Restaurant Review

I remember a restaurant critic from the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel newspaper named Robert Tolf, who also authored several books during the course of his career. The man was a great writer and a great judge of restaurant food and talent. His reviews were so well-written that you could almost taste the food as he described every bite from salad to dessert in restaurants all over the state of Florida. Many people would hold off visiting a new eatery until they read Robert’s authoritative, thorough, and accurate review.

Today things are quite different. Prospective diners visit various websites to read reviews written by “Joe the Surfer 420 Dude” and who knows what he’ll have to say about your linguine with clam sauce. I have discussed bad reviews with restaurateurs all over the country and they are frustrated by the powerlessness of confronting inaccurate reviews. For instance, the boyfriend of a server gets mad and decides to trash the restaurant where she works. It’s part of the whole internet phenomena, everyone has a platform and the power to write whatever they want.

So, how can you handle these situations? Unfortunately, you don’t have a lot of control but you do have some. The first thing is to be aware of bad reviews the moment they happen. Most of the platforms like Yelp allow you reach out to the reviewer and try to make good on whatever their gripe was. If the griper will have no part in it you can usually post an explanation. You may have some success disputing the review as illegitimate, fictitious, or the result of an angry ex-employee but that doesn’t work most of the time.

You must be prepared to:

  • Be alert, catch the bad reviews right away.
  • Investigate the problem with staff, is the review true?
  • Contact the platform that posted the review and find out how to resolve it.
  • Contact the reviewer if possible, apologize, offer to make things right.
  • Post an explanation. Some diners just will never be happy and they love to skewer restaurants.
  • If you have a professional running your social media, they should also be responsible for your reputation management and should understand how to handle these issues.

There are still (thank goodness) many qualified restaurant reviewers out there, but we have to face the fact that the internet has become our friend and our enemy. We all have to find a way to get along.