I visited a new lunch spot in Garden City SC that I shall leave unnamed the other day to check it out. It was a non-chain restaurant, and I was looking for an alternative hangout near my office. I had a great meal there and a wonderful interaction with the staff. As soon as I returned to the office I promptly sang out its praises on Facebook and declared it as one of my new fave lunch spots. After all, if I had a wonderful meal, why not let my network of friends in on it. I also went on the company’s Facebook page and thanked them and their lovely “cupcake maestro”. What followed after my compliments gave me a great lesson on how not to treat a team.
In short order I received the following message back from the owner. The message has been edited only to remove the names and correct the writer’s punctuation, which was atrocious….
Hi David this is *** owner and founder of ***. I always appreciate positive feedback about my company from clients, but more so when it benefits the company in its entirety. I love *** to death. She is my right hand here, but, just so you know, I myself do a lot of the baking here at *** and many of the flavors we sell are my recipes. True that *** spends most of the time in the back baking from 8:30 to 3:00. Our business hours are from 10:00 to 6:00 so a lot more goes on after she has departed. That should not go unappreciated. I have plans to take *** to a franchisable level, so it is important to always maintain comments within the brand as a whole. So, anyhow, I look forward to seeing more comments from you on Facebook , but I would appreciate it if they supported *** business in general.
I couldn’t post my initial thoughts on Facebook as they were of the more crude and angry manner, but I did post this on my wall…Yikes! Complimented a new restaurant in a post yesterday and mentioned one of their star bakers by name and got scolded by the owner for singling out somebody and not just the store as a whole. Way to go on the employee support, man!
These were some of the comments I got back…
Mike wrote: “Small minded man who refuses to be part of his own team. Sounds like he’s more concerned with PROFITS than people. Nice call.”
Honey wrote: “That figures… If the whole team can’t get a trophy no one can. “
Teresa wrote: “That is pretty lousy.”
Amanda wrote: “Oh! Wonder if he’s hiring!!?? LOL!”
Nick wrote: “dislike.”
Johnny wrote: “I guess I wouldn’t recommend his restaurant anymore. I’d hate to get it wrong.”
After taking some time to gather my thoughts on what a fool the owner seemed to be, I answered him back in order to give him a chance to get it right. He didn’t. As you’ll see from the following interaction, he kept digging his hole. From the wording, you might be able to guess which place it is. I mean, how many lunch spots on the south end are famous for cupcakes? If you really want to know where it is, e-mail me.
From me…Thanks for writing me back. I have to admit that I’m just a little bit taken aback by your response though. I’ve been involved in culinary writing for a while and never been scolded for making a positive post or article about a business or individual in the business. As a matter of fact, I always try to focus on the individuals because no matter how good the food, the decor, and the prices are, people keep coming back if they feel a sense of community and a sense of kinship with the people involved behind the counter. When I find a business I like, I do everything I can to help and bring in customers. That’s what I consider to be my true goal with my restaurant reviews and interview articles. I even sent my wife in there today to check it out and she brought back cupcakes to our neighbor to give them a small taste of what you offer. You’ll seldom catch me writing a bad review of a food or place unless they really deserve it. I don’t like writing negative items. If a place doesn’t impress me, I’ll simply ignore them and find a good place to talk about instead.
I’d planned to write an article about the shop and you for my column next month, and I’d planned on including a lot of what I heard you talking about with the gentleman at the counter, from your experiences in Spain that helped shape you, about your wife and her influence, how you choose your roast beef, Anita and her cupcakes, and whatever else we talked about when I interviewed you. I’m not sure you would’ve liked what I had planned though, because the article wouldn’t have been a marketing fluff piece about ***. It would’ve been about the people, the stories, and the history involved.
I can completely understand your concerns about branding, future franchising, and support for the business. I’ve been a small business owner myself for a very long time and come from a family of successful entrepreneurs. I do, however, feel that you’re going in the wrong direction with your concerns. I think of companies like Zappos.com, where the individual personalities are given a chance to shine and the end result is that people separated by miles and miles who communicate only by e-mail become friends over a pair of shoes and a financial transaction. I’ve become friends with several people on their social network team simply because I posted positive comments on their company Facebook page over my most recent shoe acquisition last week.
I feel like you’ve done a disservice to *** and the other employees by making it seem like it’s a team effort with an anonymous team. My comment was nice, fair, positive, and certainly not in error. What I wrote was like complimenting the chef after a great meal. How would you feel if you complimented a chef and the owner came out to let you know that it was not proper form to do so because of marketing issues, branding efforts, future franchise opportunities, and the team effort involved? I’m not sure how you’d feel. I know how I’d feel. I’d probably give the chef my condolences, wish him luck finding a better owner to work for, and likely never enter the restaurant again.
I don’t subscribe to the tenet that any publicity is good publicity. I do believe that good publicity is always good publicity. That’s all I offered, just a little good publicity. I enjoyed my meal, my experience with your staff, the decor, and the cupcakes and wanted to interest my network of friends and foodies in a new lunch spot. I apologize if I did something you felt was wrong. I intended no harm.
His response…You make many good points in your response, one importantly about complimenting the chef. Can you actually tell me if the cupcakes you ate or your wife for that matter were actually baked by ***?
Can you believe he actually tried to tell me that the cupcakes I handpicked with the baker right there telling me all about them might’ve been his and not hers. Seriously, does it really matter if I loved them and was planning on coming back for more?
Another response from him… By the way not that you said anything wrong , but you posted on the wall of *** and that is a company , a company that with or without the actual staff remains a company , I invested everything I have in this , and all of my time , away from my family at nights I leave they asleep in the morning . So as I said before , *** has been a great find for the existence of *** and to me personally as a friend, but as proprietor I market and sell my company. When I speak with my clients I let them know that all of our recipes are personalized and prepared by me and the well trained *** staff. Can you not understand that making a post like yours apart from truly being incorrect makes me personally look like a liar? If it were posted on your personal Facebook page or somewhat…then
no harm done… but this is *** official Facebook page. All staff take credit for what goes on there. There is more than one Maestro here. All ingredients, food items that enter on my premises are strictly
researched and hand-picked by me and *** elaborates on the baking products provided , as do I. Believe me when I say , I am not at all frustrated about this , but before more comments on the same term arise , I would only hope that the facts be carefully taken before hand.
And yet another e-mail from him…As I said, no harm done. I hope you enjoyed your meal, and I am now even more sorry that I didn’t get the chance to sit down and chat with you ,as you probably noticed I do talk a lot . Maybe in the near we will have that opportunity, and so far as the articles that you write , I think that’s marvelous. It wouldn’t be upsetting to me at all . Correct me if I’m wrong,
but writing an article focusing on the staff is awesome becaus6e it gives everyone a chance to shine, but truly my major concern right now with a major crisis on hand is consolidating this business so that people like ***, ***, ***, and myself have a place to call our job. That and pleasing my clients. I am a servicial person. I’ll do anything for anybody at anytime. I love people, and I love what I do ,so I
look forward to having you by for lunch again soon.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little interaction with a local restaurant owner. The moral of this story is that if you wish to compliment someone at a restaurant and have to ask the owner’s permission first, then find a new place to eat. This guy turned me from a stark raving fan into a hater in less time than it took me to pay for a cupcake.