Restauranteurs have a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with Yelp, a service that has emboldened the entitled diner more than any in recent memory. Not only do chefs and business owners have to worry about customers leaving salty reviews, even if completely unjustified, but they also have to worry about whether or not those negative Yelp reviews will feature prominently on their business page. Yelp wouldn't know anything about that.
Let's say you're a chef-owner of a popular restaurant, and two customers come in and start treating you and your staff like shit. Then, they start threatening you with bad Yelp reviews, the final refuge of the entitled diner. What to do?
You could, oh I dunno, snap their picture and shame them on social media.
Michael Scelfo of Boston's Alden & Harlow did just that.
"Shout out to these two winners for seating themselves with no reservations, insulting and berating our staff, refusing to leave and all the while yelping away in front of us as a means of threat. #kbye #wedontnegotiatewithyelpers," he wrote on Instagram alongside the photo. Instagram has since removed the photo, according to Scelfo, but screenshots were grabbed (via BostInno):
We tried to have them leave, they refused. Taking their drink away and being forceful is not hospitable. So in lieu of calling the police (only other recourse imo) which seemed too strong a response, we opted to kill them with kindness until they left. We as a team endured a ton of abuse but ultimately chose the high road. My choice to post this is not to slander on them per say but to call attention to a major flaw in the current 'online review system & entitled mentality.' Ultimately, it's about protecting the integrity of our (well documented) humble and gracious staff. Feel free to vilify me for posting, but I stand by my post.
Scelfo later informed his followers that Instagram had removed the photo, but he stands by his post. He also suggested that there should be an Uber-like rating system for diners.
"looks like @instagram pulled it. #wedontnegotiatewithyelpers stands true though, and I would encourage more people to be responsible with it. Uber allows for service providers to rate customers, we should move to that system. I will always stand by my staff, always," he wrote.
Alden & Harlow currently boasts a 4-star review on Yelp, with 323 reviews. The only recent negative review is from a woman who read about Scelfo's actions and vehemently disapproves.
"Calling out people (Women obviously, highly doubt he'd care as much if they were men with opinions) who came to SPEND MONEY at your restaurant because other people recommended it on Yelp...Then trashing ALL Yelp users altogether, (Even the ones who gave you such high marks) makes YOU look like the asshole.," she write. "Just another entitled prick with a bank loan. AVOID this place if you are just finding it here. They do not want YOUR business."
You might not agree with his tactics, but you have to admit that it's refreshing to see someone stand up against rude customers – if they really were as rude as he claims.
And maybe that's another lesson. Don't get on the bad side of someone with a bigger megaphone than you.
Image via mscelfo, Instagram