Restaurant Owner Disputes Yelp Review

VoltaireThe owner of Voltaire, a Kansas City restaurant, didn't accept a critical Yelp Review. The reviewer and her lawyer-husband were busy in a meeting across the street, and Voltaire refused to package the food "to-go" for someone to pick up.

On Yelp, the reviewer gave Voltaire one star and explained the restaurant's refusal, beginning with the line, "Most unfriendly and arrogant restaurant in KC." In the owner's response, he confirmed that they don't offer take-out:

"I sincerely apologize that we don't offer "take-out" food at our restaurant. Being a Yelp user, I'm sure you were aware that on our Yelp business page, on the right side of the screen, it lists details about our establishment. There is an item listed "Take-Out : No." We have never offered take-out food as we believe the food we prepare should be presented as we see fit, (usually) on a plate inside the dining room."

The owner went on to draw an analogy between not offering take-out and not providing divorce assistance when one is a tax lawyer.

Although Voltaire reviews on Yelp are generally positive (4 out of 5 stars), a few comments may indicate other issues, such as this 2-star review:

"I'm mixed on Voltaire.

'The good: the food and drinks are incredible. Good enough to earn them back a star after a really unfortunate experience.

"The bad: the staff knows the food and drinks are good, but behave like that grants them a licence for difficult behavior. . . ."

Discussion Starters:

  • Read the entire original review and the owner's response. Based on this exchange, did the owner handle the situation well?
  • Even if you agree with the approach, what, if any, missteps did the restaurant make with this customer?
  • Is the lawyer analogy effective? What makes an analogy false?
  • What about the adage, "The customer's always right?" Has social media changed this?
  • What's the customers' responsibility? How, if at all, did they act inappropriately?