It took you years to make your restaurant dream a reality, but you finally got the doors open. You couldn’t be happier with how your grand opening is going – until you get less-than-flattering review from the biggest restaurant critic in town. Your reaction has the potential to make a bigger impact than the review itself, so your next moves are critical.
For guidance on what to do when you get a bad restaurant review, we sat down for some real talk with a trio of veteran restaurant publicists in Washington, D.C.: Meaghan O’Shea, director of marketing and PR for Farmers Restaurant Group (which owns Founding Farmers, Farmers & Distillers, and Farmers Fishers Bakers, Jennie Kuperstein, co-owner of Stand Out Public Relations, which represents Honeysuckle and Woodward Table; and Jennifer Resick Williams, founder of Know PR, which represents Mike Isabella’s restaurants, such as Arroz and Kapnos, and Del Campo.
Don’t expect advance notice.
You may know it’s coming – but no one except the critic will know what it’s going to say ahead of time. Jennifer Resik Williams says, “We don’t have any heads up in terms of a tone or a rating of a review before it’s published. I tend not to do any expectation setting with our clients when it comes to reviews because they are so out of our hands and individual.”
Take a deep breath. “Don’t get stressed about it, because being stressed is not an action step. It’s a waste of time,” counsels Meaghan O’Shea.
Disconnect from the internets. “Stay away from social media all together because you can’t take back whatever you say,” advises Jennie Kuperstein. “Just put your phone away.”
Consider reaching out to the source. Williams reveals, “Many critics are open to a phone discussion or a short back and forth by email. There is something to be gained from all types of feedback.”
You don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel. Kuperstein cautions, “One review is not a reason to redo your whole concept or menu. Stay true to who you are.” [Read more…]