While this isn’t about a Vegas restaurant, the story was interesting enough to publish, because it give an amazing insight into how not to deal with Yelpers.
Mark Nery, the unusually abusive and strange owner of Denver Restaurant Onefold is giving the restaurant industry a lesson in how not to respond to people on social media. While reviewers have noted in the past that the owner is a bit obnoxious, loud and even once went after an elderly woman who complained, calling her an asshole, he probably went too far this time and has ended up being sued by a customer for his erratic and slanderous behavior.
Mark Nery posted on the restaurants’s Facebook page yesterday that he was being sued by a customer Michael Uzmann, after he levied a series of personal attacks publically against Uzmann for leaving a negative review on Yelp.
These attacks not only were posted on Yelp and Facebook, but according to both parties, Nery went on a weird rampage of everything from claiming the reviewer was looking at illegal pornography while eating, to more recently, homophobic comments questioning Uzmann’s sexuality. Even after claiming he was being sued, Nery couldn’t save himself, referring to Uzmann as a “little bitch” on Yelp, and once again questioned Uzmann’s sexuality by claiming other guys were “glazing” Uzmann’s doughnuts. According to posts by Uzmann on Facebook, Nery has even been cyberstalking him on Facebook.
The result was that Nery received extensive negative press about his behavior, with even Denver Eater bringing up that people were calling Nery so crazy that he was “Donald Trump’s Long Lost Twin.” Also Nery has been generally panned by the entire restaurant industry including chefs as a crazy loon and customers have stopped going to the restaurant, scared that they would be verbally attacked, stalked, lampooned on social media… and even have their photos posted through cameras that the owner installed to spy on customers – as Nery admits he did with Uzmann.
We spoke briefly with Uzmann but couldn’t reach Onefold for an interview. Uzmann explain that the lawsuit wasn’t “about hurt feeling” but instead about principles.
“I write for me and the people who enjoy my writing. I go above and beyond to support Chefs doing great things and present my opinions as I see them, unbiased. This is about lying, attacking your customers, and claiming felonious activity against someone who has spent his life and hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to help people.”
Even if Uzmann’s review on Yelp was wrong, this was the completely insane way to respond. Restaurant customers have to trust that the Chef is not just a decent cook, but that he is taking precautions with cleanliness and hygiene of the food. Running a restaurant is a hard job, and no customer wants to wonder if the owner had a good day, went crazy and decided to pee in someone’s coffee because he didn’t like the way you looked. Even if the food was amazing, I wouldn’t go there, less the owner come out and abuse me for perhaps returning something.
How should have Nery responded? Simple by asking Uzmann to come back and try the food again, provide him with free samples and even ask the reviewer some advice. Highly active Yelp reviewers are often highly influential in the areas they review, bring tons of customers, and even understand the ins and outs of restaurant business. They are usually very forgiving and willing to give a restaurant a second chance when approached.
In this case, Nery did the opposite and probably won’t have a restaurant in 12 months when his insurance company drops him, his customers leave, and he is sued again and again for slander, harassment and abuse.
Or he will eventually end up in jail when he goes too far stalking customers.
Pesach “Pace” Lattin has been doing online media and marketing for over 20 years and has earned the reputation of having a high standard of ethics and being an expert in both brand and direct response. Follow me