I'm giving this place five stars because the owner, Samy, threatened me on Facebook with bodily injury if I don't write nice things about his restaurant. Please send help. Send Captain America and the Hulk. Samy is a big guy.
It was just one of hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of comments to surface on social media in the past few days about a restaurant that was recently featured on an episode of Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares. Ramsey walked out on restaurant owners Samy and Amy Bouzaglo because he said they were too difficult to work with.
Why? Because they were too stubborn to accept any of his suggestions for improving the restaurant. Oh yeah, and they apparently take the tips out of the hands of their waitstaff.
As soon as the episode aired Friday night, the oddly named restaurant started trending on Twitter and attracting more interest on Facebook in a few hours than it probably drew in years.
Incensed viewers expressed their outrage on Yelp and Reddit. And then the restaurant owners made the biggest possible mistake. They started responding to every nasty comment and bad review with even nastier, crazier comments of their own.
When was the last time you've heard a business owner write something as vitriolic as "we don't let slutty bitches like you here" on Facebook? In fairness, that's an indirect quote: The actual quote from the owner was typed in ALL CAPS!
There were equally unprofessional comments on Yelp and Reddit and who knows where else. (Some have since been deleted, but if you look hard enough you'll find them.)
But the story doesn't stop there. Yesterday, the owners went back on their Facebook page to make a startling revelation:
Obviously our Facebook, YELP, Twitter and Website have been hacked. We are working with the local authorities as well as the FBI computer crimes unit to ensure this does not happen again. We did not post those horrible things.
All of your accounts were hacked simultaneously? And you wait 24 hours to take any response? You don't delete your page, shut down your website, or do anything else immediately?
Geez, Amy and Samy, do you think the rest of us have as little common sense as you two? You think this excuse is believable?
The whole incident disproves the old adage that "any publicity is good publicity." It's hard to imagine the restaurant will even survive its childish rant -- and impossible to think it could somehow profit from it.
Even the most optimistic sentiment analysis will show that that very few people are eager to eat at Amy's -- and that the owners have done a good job portraying themselves as mean, profane, and, at the risk of insulting someone who is genuinely mentally ill, crazy.
I have no idea whether the Bouzaglos need mental health treatment, but they do need attitude adjustments, intense lessons on manners, and, most importantly, new professions -- perhaps as forest rangers, so they don't have too have much human contact.
The Bouzaglos will have no problem finding analysis about the errors of their ways. By last night, there was a flood of articles online about the whole messy incident -- and writers from everywhere from The Consumerist to Forbes were weighing in with advice.
But here are a few of the simplest things to remember:
No one likes a bully. Whether you are pushing a kid on a playground or virtually smacking your detractors online, you come off as a jerk. Go home. No one wants to play with you.
You can't control what people say. Most kids learn this in middle school. They also learn that responding to something angry with more anger is like juggling with chainsaws -- riskier than it's worth.
Social media are social. Accept it. People have opinions and perspectives. You can't wish, curse, or scream loud enough to make them go away. So don't even try.
Data you create today will haunt you indefinitely. This is the Internet. It takes many, many prisoners. Your anger, your stupidity, your unprofessionalism will survive online longer than cockroaches in New York City -- and that's a very, very long time.
What's your take on this very public meltdown? What can other brands or businesses learn from it?
Amy's Baking Company co-owner Sami Bouzaglo reportedly is on the (very) hot seat with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and facing deportation for failing to disclose his time in prison prior to emigrating to the U.S., and for an international record suggesting involvement in "drug distribution, threats, and extortion", according to a recent article in Huffington Post.
The case, with candid clips of Sami and his wife Amy in action, is discussed together with two interesting video reports. The HuffPost Live report I found especially interesting.
Here's the couple in apparently a less combative moment:
That's pretty much their plan, lock down a new profile so that only approved posts are accepted. There have been a few FB meltdowns that I've seen over the past few years where a company or individual trying to build a brand went off the deep end trying to defend their brand. More often than not it turns ugly and the company just looks worse for all the effort. When it comes to social media it's better for a company to be apologetic and to settle offline when you take a fight public your image is tarnished every time.
Noreen, - It is simply difficult to believe that this all went down except that the evidence is right there. This is what you would call business suicide and i'm curious to know if customers are still flowing in at the normal numbers.
How are they ever going to control free media? They are using Facebook after all. Guess they'd have to set their account settings in such a way that no one can comment or post anything. That means no good reviews either. It looks highly unlikely that this business would learn from their mistakes. According to one of the earlier posts the same thing happened with someone giving a bad review on yelp and owner complaining of loss of business in the same way.
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