A Bad Review Can Be A Good Thing

Earlier this month both the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Riverfront Times reviewed a recently opened suburban restaurant/bar. Each review, posted within a couple of days of each other, was generally negative. But there are upsides to these reviews!

  1. Readers are now aware that a new restaurant/bar is open in a space where another restaurant had been located for many years. The descriptions of what’s happening now in the space may attract new diners.
  2. Photos accompanying reviews often present a more positive example of the restaurant that the words do.
  3. The simple fact that the professional reviewers felt they should share their opinions with readers indicates that the restaurant is worth a full review.
  4. Each reviewer found a few things to like about the food, the drinks, the décor and the staff.
  5. Constructive criticism can be useful to a restaurant owner/manager. He/she can evaluate what was written, determine if it is valid and, if appropriate, remedy the shortcomings.
  6. Negative online postings on media websites can elicit comments from friends and partisans of the restaurant who may share their own positive thoughts about the place.
  7. If the restaurant had been a complete and total mess, the publications would likely have not run reviews. In such a case, the presumption is the place will not survive long, so why bother? (Remember: these media outlets exist to sell advertising. If they trash a restaurant mercilessly, the industry may avoid placing ads with the outlet.)
  8. Not all who read these reviews accept them at face value. Some folks put more stock in user reviews on Yelp, OpenTable, etc.
  9. A relationship has been established with the media outlet. When the restaurant has a new menu, special event, major new hire, etc., the outlet may be more likely to give notice to the news.
  10. If handled correctly, these reviews can be used to motivate staff to deliver better performance and to create a better team spirit.

I’m not always a “silver linings” guy, but I encourage everyone in the local food and beverage scene to work to make the “less than positive” feedback you receive into something useful.


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