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How "NOT" to respond to a negative review!


food4thought
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Direct review response

I am writing in response to Margaret Gleason's review of this restaurant. Margaret's history of restaurant reviews indicate that this person likes buffets and likes LARGE amounts of food! She eats chicken wings and bacon and complains when there isn't enough food.

This restaurant is a healthy place with generous portions but overweight, unhealthy individuals would NEVER find what we do pleasurable because they are accustomed to eating grease, meat, toxic waste and sugar! Our restaurant has only in-house made PURE and organic food that is prepared fresh to order! Margaret unfortunately seems to think that every restaurant should be a fast food restaurant and she even had the nerve to make a comment about the St Pete Times food critic, Laura Reilly, who has exemplary credentials and experience! Not to mention that Laura Reilly has laid waste to some 5-star restaurants but she has given us a rave review! In fact, her review is what prompted Ms. Gleason to come to our restaurant. Our average guest's check is $18-20. This is not cheap but it is also not expensive or over-priced as Ms Gleason eludes. Our menu is excellent, the food is phenomenal and we are so busy that reservations are suggested.

I would not trust any review by this person as she does not have a clear idea of what healthy eating is, prefers to gouge herself on buffets with bacon, cheese and fried foods, and generally doesn't seem to have anything nice to say about any restaurant that serves food for more than $7/per person! Please don't just take my word for it, look at her reviews of other restauarants and you will see what I mean!

Please check out Leafy Greens Cafe at our new St Petersburg location and enjoy REAL food at good prices and excellent service and great company! Don't be surprised if the other guests start to chat with you when you are here - this is an experience of friendship and community-- everyone has a great time! Our customers generally come to our restaurant several times per week because our food is so delicious and so hard to make that the average person would rather visit us than attempt to duplicate what we do! We actually offer anyone our recipes if they want too - we are in the business of introducing people to wellness - not just feeding people. Our food and our philosophy has changed people's lives!

Email sent to we8there.com offices

First, I want to say that I think it’s rude and unfair to allow someone to inadvertently place derogatory information about a company on your website and you don’t notify the person or allow the company to respond to their complaints. Of course I don’t quite understand why someone who obviously isn’t a vegan would step into a restaurant the weekend following a stellar review by the main news tabloid’s top food critic to slander a restaurant that was packed with people!

The person who wrote the review of our restaurant failed to mention that all of the food prepared at our restaurant was raw and made in-house and they obviously have no idea about the time-intensiveness of what we do. They also felt the portions were small indicating that they know absolutely nothing about raw food as our portions are twice as large as the only other raw food restaurant in the area and our prices are equal to theirs!

When someone orders gazpacho and the portion is 2 full cups and they complain, it seems to me that the complaint is coming from someone who is not conscious of portioning and has no idea what they are talking about! We give a generous helping of our soups. Our $14 ‘sandwich’ is prepared on a bread that takes 24 hours to prepare, literally and the portion is so large that most people only order a half portion. This person who complained obviously has a huge appetite and hasn’t been eating well for a long time – or their body would not crave more and MORE! Also, don’t you find it interesting that they were complaining that the food was “marginal” and then continued by saying that the portions were too small? Sounds pretty ridiculous to me!

Our food is EXCELLENT and we have been reviewed by 6 critics all of whom raved about it! Also, EVERYTHING is organic and prepared from scratch, one dish at a time – not even our lettuce is pre-cut and we have never even called SYSCO once! We have only fresh food at the restaurant and I object to a person being able to slander a company with no founded basis and then your company conscientiously submits your website to the search engines and damages the company’s reputation!

I would appreciate it if you would remove this review from our listing. You are welcome to go to our website and read the review that got this particular person to come into our restaurant in the first place.

I appreciate your website and hope you will help us to grow our company. Our restaurant was only open for 6 weeks when this person decided to be a food critic with no basis! Our company is very well respected and we are in great standing with the vegan community despite her review!

Be well,

Denise Becknell

Owner

Leafy Greens Café

To read the actual review that prompted this response go to

http://www.we8there.com/rest_detail.php?busid=9423

Stanley E. Roberts

President/CEO

www.we8there.com

"we ate there, should you?"

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I think Denise needs to be introduced to our good friend, Valium.

While I can understand trying to do damage control, saying that, "overweight, unhealthy individuals would NEVER find what we do pleasurable because they are accustomed to eating grease, meat, toxic waste and sugar" will do more to alienate potential customers than what the original reviewer said.

I am not vegetarian/vegan, but do occasionally dine that way if I feel a restaurant has a nice selection of those foods. Reading this type of response by an owner makes me steer clear of a place like this, regardless of how good or fresh the food is.

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That was stupid on the part of the restaurant, of course. But, having taken a few minutes to peruse the reviewer's other reviews I have to say that Ms. Blackwell has some valid points. Why would a person whose other reviews reflect a fondness for very cheaply priced all-you-can-eat buffets along the lines of Golden Corral and Cici's, and who does things like complaining that one breakfast buffet didn't have enough bacon -- why would this person think she would like a middlebrow raw vegan restaurant?

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That was stupid on the part of the restaurant, of course.  But, having taken a few minutes to peruse the reviewer's other reviews I have to say that Ms. Blackwell has some valid points.  Why would a person whose other reviews reflect a fondness for very cheaply priced all-you-can-eat buffets along the lines of Golden Corral and Cici's, and who does things like complaining that one breakfast buffet didn't have enough bacon -- why would this person think she would like a middlebrow raw vegan restaurant?

Yep, but Ms. Becknell would have done herself more good had she figured out a way to insult the reviewer without also insulting a good 50% of her potential customer base.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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It doesn't sound to me as if she insulted her intended customer base. I think she made her point loud and clear.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I thought this topic was going to be about the restaurant Charles in NYC using Frank Bruni's review to cover their windows. :laugh:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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It doesn't sound to me as if she insulted her intended customer base. I think she made her point loud and clear.

I agree that "she made her point loud and clear." And a large part of her point may not have insulted her "intended" customer base, but it definitely insulted a large percentage of her potential customer base.

As a former retail business owner, my main goal was not to insult, lecture or preach to potential customers. It was to attract a large enough customer base to keep my doors open, pay my overhead, and meet a payroll.

But perhaps Ms. Becknell and I don't have that in common. Her insulting and condescending statement that "overweight, unhealthy individuals would NEVER find what we do pleasurable because they are accustomed to eating grease, meat, toxic waste and sugar" would definitely turn me off, should I fall into that category today, but be considering trying a new lifestyle tomorrow.

Very stupid, arrogant and shortsighted comment from a business perspective.

Especially during these difficult economic times.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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It doesn't sound to me as if she insulted her intended customer base. I think she made her point loud and clear.

I agree that "she made her point loud and clear." And a large part of her point may not have insulted her "intended" customer base, but it definitely insulted a large percentage of her potential customer base.

I think this, as a general rule of thumb, may be true. However, I don't think it is likely to be the case with respect to people who might be customers at a raw vegan restaurant. This kind of thing is preaching to the choir, really.

A "regular" lacto-ovo cooked food vegetarian restaurant might have concerns about turning off the curious. But it's not like hamburger-eaters are ever going to make up a percentage of this restaurant's clientele lerge enough to even measure, never mind worry about turning off. If anything, bashing back at a banquet-eating, bacon-scarfing nonbeliever is likely to attract vegetarians or dilletantes... much in the same way that fire-and-brimstone preachers may turn off most people, but still manage to increase their flocks.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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It doesn't sound to me as if she insulted her intended customer base. I think she made her point loud and clear.

I agree that "she made her point loud and clear." And a large part of her point may not have insulted her "intended" customer base, but it definitely insulted a large percentage of her potential customer base.

I think this, as a general rule of thumb, may be true. However, I don't think it is likely to be the case with respect to people who might be customers at a raw vegan restaurant. This kind of thing is preaching to the choir, really.

A "regular" lacto-ovo cooked food vegetarian restaurant might have concerns about turning off the curious. But it's not like hamburger-eaters are ever going to make up a percentage of this restaurant's clientele lerge enough to even measure, never mind worry about turning off. If anything, bashing back at a banquet-eating, bacon-scarfing nonbeliever is likely to attract vegetarians or dilletantes... much in the same way that fire-and-brimstone preachers may turn off most people, but still manage to increase their flocks.

I think she should just eat a little meat and she'll calm down a bit. I find that the lack of certain proteins (i.e.those found in a yummy, greasy hamburger) in a diet tend to make people very cross.

Having said that and having had my fair share of owners who don't agree with my reviews, I think that for her to demand that the review be taken down is a bit ridiculous. Better to learn to laugh it off.

The folks who eat this way will read and think the writer is messed up and the ones who don't more than likely will never eat there any way.

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That was stupid on the part of the restaurant, of course.  But, having taken a few minutes to peruse the reviewer's other reviews I have to say that Ms. Blackwell has some valid points.  Why would a person whose other reviews reflect a fondness for very cheaply priced all-you-can-eat buffets along the lines of Golden Corral and Cici's, and who does things like complaining that one breakfast buffet didn't have enough bacon -- why would this person think she would like a middlebrow raw vegan restaurant?

I actually looked over a good deal of this person's other reviews, and those are my thoughts exactly.

I'm actually thinking this might be a set-up of some kind. Does Ms. Gleason know Denise somehow, and because of past relationships, want her restaurant to fail? I'm sorry, but I just can't conceive of a situation where Ms. Gleason would want such a sharp relief from all of the mass quantity consumption at buffets that she would even think about eating at a raw vegan restaurant. In one of her reviews, she even points out that she regularly commutes an hour round-trip for a particularly good pizza buffet at $5.79 per person. It seems pretty clear what her preferences are.

Of course, Denise sounds like an extremist, but she is a raw food vegan. Isn't pointing that out kind of redundant? I would be very surprised if there isn't more to the story here.

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That was stupid on the part of the restaurant, of course.  But, having taken a few minutes to peruse the reviewer's other reviews I have to say that Ms. Blackwell has some valid points.  Why would a person whose other reviews reflect a fondness for very cheaply priced all-you-can-eat buffets along the lines of Golden Corral and Cici's, and who does things like complaining that one breakfast buffet didn't have enough bacon -- why would this person think she would like a middlebrow raw vegan restaurant?

I actually looked over a good deal of this person's other reviews, and those are my thoughts exactly.

I'm actually thinking this might be a set-up of some kind. Does Ms. Gleason know Denise somehow, and because of past relationships, want her restaurant to fail? I'm sorry, but I just can't conceive of a situation where Ms. Gleason would want such a sharp relief from all of the mass quantity consumption at buffets that she would even think about eating at a raw vegan restaurant. In one of her reviews, she even points out that she regularly commutes an hour round-trip for a particularly good pizza buffet at $5.79 per person. It seems pretty clear what her preferences are.

Of course, Denise sounds like an extremist, but she is a raw food vegan. Isn't pointing that out kind of redundant? I would be very surprised if there isn't more to the story here.

I don't want to sound as an apologist for Denise, but could it possibly be that:

1. she is new to the business world and is totally overwhelmed,

2. she has more passion for her idea, than experience or knowledge of how to implement it,

3. she is stressed out, and had a particularly bad day. I suppose that when her busboy, dishwasher or cashier don't show up on time, she has to step in.

4. it could very well be that she is a bit condescending towards those of us who weigh considerably more than our doctors want us to, but ... it seems that reviewer's words wounded her deeply. She has my sympathy because I think she tries hard. I wish her luck.

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Maybe it's just me, but I'm not a hard-core "either or" kinda gal. In most larger cities, there are vegetarian/vegan/New Age etc. restaurants, many of them quite famous, that do wonderful things. I'll admit I usually find that sort of menu more appealing for lunch than dinner, but I definitely seek them out and patronize them.

I can't imagine I'm the only one that would appreciate a nice salad or gazpacho at a restaurant like that.

So I repeat, in my opinion she did indeed insult a large portion of her potential customer base.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Maybe it's just me, but I'm not a hard-core "either or" kinda gal.  In most larger cities, there are vegetarian/vegan/New Age etc. restaurants, many of them quite famous, that do wonderful things.  I'll admit I usually find that sort of menu more appealing for lunch than dinner, but I definitely seek them out and patronize them.

I can't imagine I'm the only one that would appreciate a nice salad or gazpacho at a restaurant like that.

So I repeat, in my opinion she did indeed insult a large portion of her potential customer base.

I'm not hard-core "either or" either. I used to be a raw food vegan years and years ago, but since then I've changed a lot, and now I eat everything. In fact, I couldn't fit in very well with a vegan crowd because I openly admit that I eat Foie Gras. I do still like to eat salads, however, and I not only eat gazpacho, I make my very own favorite version of it, but I'm still willing to try it at restaurants to see if anyone knows my tastes better than I do.

However, when I write reviews of restaurants on the internet, I never give a write-up to a Golden Corral or a Cici's Pizza. In fact, I don't often write about buffets unless they are exceptional, and I most definitely wouldn't write the majority of my reviews about buffets and whether they have enough bacon on them or not.

I think this is someone with a very loud opinion who is writing on a very small, little-used website and I don't trust that opinion at all. If I were in the vicinity, I'd patronize the vegan place just to spite her.

On top of that, I think that the fact that the owner of the website in question started this thread is, um, possibly not quite appropriate. It seems that there are multiple agendas at work here.

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On top of that, I think that the fact that the owner of the website in question started this thread is, um, possibly not quite appropriate. It seems that there are multiple agendas at work here.

True that.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Maybe it's just me, but I'm not a hard-core "either or" kinda gal.  In most larger cities, there are vegetarian/vegan/New Age etc. restaurants, many of them quite famous, that do wonderful things.  I'll admit I usually find that sort of menu more appealing for lunch than dinner, but I definitely seek them out and patronize them.

Who knew? So, what raw vegan restaurants have you been to?

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Maybe it's just me, but I'm not a hard-core "either or" kinda gal.  In most larger cities, there are vegetarian/vegan/New Age etc. restaurants, many of them quite famous, that do wonderful things.  I'll admit I usually find that sort of menu more appealing for lunch than dinner, but I definitely seek them out and patronize them.

Who knew? So, what raw vegan restaurants have you been to?

You know, I can't remember the names. Often something in close proximity to a hotel where I'm staying.

I really more strongly remember the outfits of the waitstaff.

And I'm serious.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Well, it might have been better to email the website and ask them what they thought was the best way to respond to such a negative review. They probably have a useful perspective. No sense alienating any part of the industry if you don't have to.

I'm not in the business but I might have composed a response along the lines of being terribly sorry that so-and-so didn't like the restaurant and then explaining the philosophy of presenting carefully prepared meals of fresh healthy ingredients and portions that are hoped to be satisfying for most clients -without directly dissing the reviewer. Let your restaurant stand for itself.

Then, sleep on it a few nights, let a friend read it, let a mentor in the industry read it, then either post it or tear it up.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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So Food4Thought/Mr Roberts, I can't help but wonder what your goal or intent was in starting this thread.

The Cafe owner doesn't give you permission in her response to post her words on other internet sites or to use it in any other way or form than a response to a posting on your own site.

I agree with TheFoodTutor, there's more to this than meets the eye....

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I just read the review. $14 for two cups of gazpacho does seem a bit extravagant for an apparently funky vegan joint. I think that a Michelin 3 star might not charge quite so much for such a simple and cheap dish. The review didn't sound mean-spirited or ax-grinding. I think that the reviewer just thought she was ripped off.

why the website owner posted is another issue entirely

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So Food4Thought/Mr Roberts, I can't help but wonder what your goal or intent was in starting this thread.

The Cafe owner doesn't give you permission in her response to post her words on other internet sites or to use it in any other way or form than a response to a posting on your own site

I agree with TheFoodTutor, there's more to this than meets the eye....

Actually, I was trying to figure out a way to respond to the restaurant owner and was at a lost for words, we receive tons of reviews over the last 10 years but this was the first review to leave me speechless (and that's saying a lot) I needed to put it in front of some experts or foodies to get some honest feedback .....There really is nothing sinister in this post I just needed some insite, but to get the insite I felt I needed to tell the whole story...... For the record whenever someone submits a review and rates their business with smiley faces their submission gives we8there.com full ownership of the review therefore giving we8there.com implied permission to republish the content as we feel the need. I don't know either one of the individuals and we have not and will not post the owners review because it violates our posting policy but I feel the need to respond....... Thank you for asking I hope I answered your question(s)

Stanley E. Roberts

President/CEO

www.we8there.com

"we ate there, should you?"

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I just read the review.  $14 for two cups of gazpacho does seem a bit extravagant for an apparently funky vegan joint.  I think that a Michelin 3 star might not charge quite so much for such a simple and cheap dish.

I don't know how we got the idea that it was $14 for the gazpacho. The price was nine dollars for the gazpacho, not fourteen. Nine bucks seems like a pretty reasonable price for two cups of al-organic gazpacho.

The "reviewer" complains of an entree salad at $14 (the real price appears to be $13) and a sandwich of raw cashew "hummus" with chopped lettuce, guacamole, sprouts and tomato on onion "bread" at $14. These prices are by no means cheap, but certainly not outrageously high either.

One of the things I think a lot of people forget about restaurants like this is that it is quite a bit more expensive to run. There is no cooked food. Cooked food has a longer shelf life. Food with preservatives has a longer shelf life. Frozen food has a longer shelf life. They can't take advantage of any of this. The onion "bread" on the sandwich? Has to be made in-house by a laborious process that takes 24 hours or more to do. And, unlike real bread, it doesn't last for several days. These things all drive up the price.

You can see the menu here. Nothing seems particularly overpriced to me. But, then again, my frame of reference isn't the $5.95 all-you-can-eat buffet at Cici's.

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Actually, I was trying to figure out a way to respond to the restaurant owner and was at a lost for words, we receive tons of reviews over the last 10 years but this was the first review to leave me speechless (and that's saying a lot)

So, how about sending the restaurant owner a private message, stating that you'd like to give her an opportunity to present her opinion, but that you think her response letters are too antagonistic in tone? Or there are some other possible options. I recommend researching the paths that Yelp has taken in addressing business owners who feel that they've been wronged by the sort of relatively anonymous reviews that appear on sites like yours. I do not recommend offering to remove negative reviews in exchange for advertising revenue, as Yelp has been accused of doing, but looking into some of the controversies and responses they've experienced is a good place to start. This forum, while it does provide helpful information about lots of topics, is probably not the best place to get advice on this sort of thing.

I don't know either one of the individuals and we have not and will not post the  owners review because it violates our posting policy . . .

You won't post the owner's response on your own site because it violates your posting policy, and yet you choose to post it here? I'm afraid I don't understand that.

Edited by TheFoodTutor (log)
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Actually, I was trying to figure out a way to respond to the restaurant owner and was at a lost for words, we receive tons of reviews over the last 10 years but this was the first review to leave me speechless (and that's saying a lot)

So, how about sending the restaurant owner a private message, stating that you'd like to give her an opportunity to present her opinion, but that you think her response letters are too antagonistic in tone? Or there are some other possible options. I recommend researching the paths that Yelp has taken in addressing business owners who feel that they've been wronged by the sort of relatively anonymous reviews that appear on sites like yours. I do not recommend offering to remove negative reviews in exchange for advertising revenue, as Yelp has been accused of doing, but looking into some of the controversies and responses they've experienced is a good place to start. This forum, while it does provide helpful information about lots of topics, is probably not the best place to get advice on this sort of thing.

I read the Yelp article and actually talked to a business owner (non-food related) Peters Audio Stereo in San Franciso who told me Yelp has Blacklisted his business for failing to advertise on with them. The store had no negative reviews, all were positive what they did was remove Peters Audio Stereo from their search feature.

Your question about not posting the review on our site is simple the owner attempted to submit the writings as a "restaurant review" including giving it a rating of 5 smiley faces in an attempt to munipulate the ratings which is a violation of our posting policy and currently we do not allow business owners the ability to post comments but we are considering that options for members. Unlike Yelp we don't allow business owners the ability to buy advertising we feel it would create a conflict like what we are seeing over at Yelp!

Again thank you so very much for your insite, you have some very valid points.

Stanley E. Roberts

President/CEO

www.we8there.com

"we ate there, should you?"

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