How to Deal with Restaurant Critics to Make the Experience a Success Story
Most bar and restaurant owners fear the moment when a food critic walks through their establishment’s door to review a dining experience and share it with the world.
While the best scenario is, of course, to know when a food critic will be visiting your restaurant so that you and your staff can better prepare, there are often times when restaurant critics will arrive unannounced. Whichever situation you find yourself in, here are tips for dealing with restaurant critics to ensure their review is a positive one.
1. Give them the VIP treatment:
This may seem obvious, but not all restaurants treat food critics well. In a New York Post article, “Even critics get poor treatment at restaurants,” restaurant critic Steve Cuozzo shares some of his most disappointing restaurant experiences in recent days, including being oversold by a used car salesman-like waiter or sat at an awkward mid-room table for two when there were numerous better ones available at an Upper East-side Brasserie in NYC.
2. Do not over-coddle the food critic:
Continuing on the above point, while it’s imperative to treat restaurant critics well, there is a fine line between providing excellent customer service and over-coddling them. Check on them frequently, but without bothering them too much during their meal. Avoid treating food critics any differently than you would other guests.
3. Be receptive to criticism:
According to the Association of Food Journalists’ (AFJ) Food Critics Guidelines, all food critics have the professional responsibility to be fair and honest, to understand and illuminate the cuisine about which he or she is writing, and to look beyond specific dishes and experiences to capture the whole of the restaurant and its intentions. In the restaurant critic’s quest to do their jobs well, you can expect constructive criticism during the process. Rather than getting angry, respond to it graciously.
4. Impart upon your staff the philosophy that consistency is paramount:
Regardless of who sits down for service or what they order, your staff must always strive to provide a consistently excellent experience to all guests, no matter who they are. After all, you never know when that next customer who sits down will be an unannounced restaurant critic!
5. If the first restaurant review by a critic is less than stellar, invite them back again:
If a critic publishes a less than stellar review about your restaurant, welcome him or her back again for another visit and a chance to make things right. Don’t follow in the footsteps of restaurants that have actually kicked out restaurant critics from their establishment after receiving a bad review. That’s what happened to New York Magazine restaurant critic Adam Platt who tweeted about getting booted out of ZZ’s Clam Bar in NYC for publishing a one-star Carbone Review on the establishment.
Do you have an experience with a restaurant critic or advice to share on dealing with one? Drop us a comment below.
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