There’s a saying in the restaurant business that goes something like, “if you lose one customer you’ve actually lost ten.” You see, if just one of your guests has a bad experience at your establishment chances are they’re going straight home to tell ten of their friends about their experience and the result being the ten friends avoiding your restaurant too.
Any chef or restaurateur knows the restaurant business in not a touchy-feely, one. It’s cut-throat, frenetic and often times downright stressful.
It seems the power of social media having a greater impact on the restaurant scene in New York City, now more than ever before.
It all started last week during the blizzard which pounded the East Coast. It seems the chef owner of a restaurant in the East Village, Joe Dobias, tweeted that his deliveries from upstate purveyors had arrived, but not fish from a local supplier. This wasn’t Chef Dobia’s first use of Twitter either. He’s known for voicing his complaints over the internet.
The chef didn’t post the supplier’s name, but the next morning, Robert DeMasco of Pierless Fish — who also delivers to restaurants like Daniel and Esca — called Mr. Dobias to tell him that his business was no longer welcome.
That’s when the fire storm on Twitter really started…..
In an interview the chef said that he had found a new purveyor. “What are we, teenage girls now?” he said. “How is it good business to make decisions off some lame thing you read on the Internet?”
The proveyer promptly fired back with, “Maybe he should get to work instead of spending his time Twittering,” said Mr. DeMasco, adding that the delivery had arrived early but that Mr. Dobias hadn’t been there to receive it.”
The chef is a good example of how people are using social media to confront their rivals, critics, bloggers, customers and in some instances bosses.
Here in Philadelphia, last season, a Lincoln Financial Field security guard used his personal Facebook page to voice his disappointment that the team had not resigned one of their more popular players, Brian Dawkins. When the team learned of the security guards negative comments they promptly fired him.
In the restaurant business these days cooking good food simply isn’t enough. Thanks in part to the Food Network and other food related television shows being a good chef requires a dynamic personality as well.
Many chefs are taking a brash personality in defending themselves on Twitter. They’ve called out customers who leave bad reviews on web sites, they’ve told others to put their phones away while dining and some have even gotten themselves fired on purpose by posting provoking things over Twitter.
Is this all just a big publicity stunt? “JoeDoe is a character I play online to keep my name in front of people,” Mr. Dobias said. “I just need them to come into my restaurant, and then my food will do the talking and I can shut up.” All press is good press isn’t it? By being the Next Gordon Ramsey these chefs are cooking up at least one thing for themselves, interest.
For the most part chefs are actually using Twitter in a more positive way. To market themselves. An uber-popular chef in LA who cooks his Latin fare out of a mobile truck uses Twitter to disclose his location and menu offerings to his faithful followers.
I understand the need for these chefs to defend themselves. iPhone applications like Yelp, where people can post their own reviews of restaurants, do not offer any sort of verification process. People are free to write what ever they want, almost immediately. Have they even dined at the restaurant they’re reviewing? Who knows.
As a former chef myself I would have relished at the chance to defend myself against critics. If only Twitter had existed when I was behind the stove. I think it’s a fine line though. Is a chef who defends himself considered pompous? We can’t please everyone and I’d like to think that my food speaks for itself. Perhaps all these chefs should just shut up and cook.
Should a chef defend themselves against negative press or should their cooking be their only line of defense?
If one person’s bad review really effects ten others chefs are indeed in one tough battle.
Via the NY Times.