Ouzos Bar and Grill in Dalkey is among the highest reviewed establishments on TripAdvisor, so when a negative review came in it caught the attention of the owner - and he clearly remembered the customer.
Laura Sweeney visited the restaurant one afternoon and found fault with everything. She complained that her party had to sit indoors on a sunny day, despite the fact that they were offered a table outside. "We were comfortable outside but moved inside anyway," she wrote.
The food was Laura's main complaint. "My dish of Scampi was lukewarm as I discovered when I cut into and ate half of one," she wrote. She says she asked for a fresh dish but "a young waitress came back with my original scampi which was much browner and the half one included.
"The manager insisted it was fresh and when I pointed out the half she said the chef had cut it to see if it was hot."
An obviously annoyed Laura decided to leave. "Not fancying my chances with reheated fish I passed the dish."
Laura's review seemed legitimate, until restaurant owner Padraic Hanley, who was present for her complaints, responded to her poor review. Padraic had quite a different tale to tell.
Tongue firmly in cheek, the Managing Director titled his response "How not to behave when out", a reference to Laura's tag line, "How not to run a restaurant".
His rebuttal has drawn much praise, including from food critic Tom Doorley, whose recent review of a Cork eatery drew criticism from the restaurant and its fans. He described the popular review website as "awful".
Padraic says the staff "of course knew the type of person we were dealing with" and his suspicions were confirmed when he read her "previous rants on other establishments via TripAdvisor."
Padraic's eloquent analysis of Laura, and TripAdvisor trolls in general, sums up the feelings of a disillusioned industry.
"Firstly, having been in the restaurant business for over 25 years we have come to know people. As restaurateurs we love people and we meet many different types of people, happy, fussy, carefree, chatty, quiet, complainers, food lovers, wine lovers and the list goes on.
"To survive in this business you had better learn how to deal with people and at Ouzos we pride ourselves when it comes to customer service, we also understand you can’t please everyone. It would seem that the type of person who takes to the internet to complain is a particular difficult individual to keep happy.
"This fact is borne out when I read your previous rants on other establishments via TripAdvisor.
"When you arrived at our restaurant you asked to sit outside, our floor supervisor asked you to take your seats outside and explained that she would be out to you shortly. (We had been very busy that day and the supervisor was simply trying to convey that to you). You then changed your mind on sitting outside and a table was set in the restaurant for you. You ordered a chowder, a pot of mussels, a seafood bake and a Dublin Bay prawn scampi.
"The chowder was returned by one person at your table because “the celery was not cooked enough” and this guest said she didn’t want anything else. Celery with a bite in our chowder is not undercooked it is by design, being a restaurateur means we will always suck up this sort of criticism, put a smile on our face, bite our lip and put a wonderful bowl of perfectly cooked seafood chowder in the bin! So, “the customer is always right” and that is our policy.
"Then came the scampi, you claimed it wasn’t hot enough and we immediately and without question replaced it with another. I was present in the kitchen when the scampi was returned and needless to say, it was perfectly cooked and at the correct temperature. We fired another portion and sent it to your table, at this point you claimed that the new portion was the old portion that had been reheated.
"We are not in the business of reheating food and strongly object to your statement and reference to unsafe food in our restaurant. When the supervisor correctly reassures you that it was not reheated you said you recognised one of the pieces of scampi and you then threaten her with TripAdvisor! (A nasty tactic you have used in a restaurant before, and that’s according to a poor restaurateur who had the misfortune to have you as a guest).
"At that point we of course knew the type of person we were dealing with and the rest is history.
"I find it shocking to think there are people like you out there who have been empowered by the likes of Trip Advisor and feel they have the right to publicly criticise a girl doing her job and set out to cause deliberate harm to an individual and a business.
"The fact is, you would be much better off putting a smile on your face and treating people with respect, you will find life and eating out will be much more enjoyable.
"And finally, we have the most wonderful customers at Ouzos, all sorts of people from all sorts of places and we love you all. It’s a great big thank you to all of you for supporting us and getting us through the last six years. Here’s to the next six wonderful years and please remember, if we sometimes get something wrong, all you have to do is tell us and we will do everything in our power to put it right and that’s something Trip Advisor can’t do."
Read the full review and response here.
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