It’s been a tough year or two for hospitality staff and restaurant owners across the country.
Closures and lack of foot flow rendered the restaurant industry a desolate place for many months, but with the recent re-openings and return of customers, many businesses have been able to breathe again.
However, with customers comes feedback, and regardless of how long hospitality staff have had to wait to serve their customers and provide them with a service they’ve been without for a long time, negative feedback is certainly back on the menu.
It goes without saying that pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants are stretched at the minute. Lay offs were inevitable during COVID and many of them are understaffed while simultaneously having to deal with a little ring rust after being out of the game for so long.
While we are unsure if this is the case or not at Sticky Walnut in Chester, the team at the award-winning bistro had to deal with some pretty harsh criticism last week – criticism that owner Gary Usher was not going to take on the chin without a counter punch.
In a review called: “Excellent food let down by Ryanair-style management,” reviewer Rob V wrote: “The good news is that the food here is very, very tasty and deserves a high rating.
“The bad news is that the restaurant management doesn’t give a toss about customer experience. I ate here on July 9 had a complaint that was dealt with badly enough by the manager that I wrote to the owner.
“A restaurant that aspires to offer fine dining experience but has lost the ability to empathise with customers and ignores them when they complain? That really is a shame.”
Gary, who has a solid reputation across the northwest and is the owner of five other restaurants under his Elite Bistros brand, didn’t hold back in his response.
He wrote: “For goodness sake Robert. I’m supposed to be in TwitAdvisor retirement so let’s not waste any time. After all, you’ve waited 11 years since joining Twitadvisor to write your first review.
“Rob, you reserved a table on a Friday evening and agreed to a 1 hour 45 minute time slot. A standard practice, particularly on busy periods, that guests and restaurants worldwide agree to.
“After your dessert course, the manager, who you said ‘doesn’t give a toss’, gently reminded you that we would need the table back shortly.
“You ignored the manager and proceeded to order another round of drinks. Perhaps if your party had arrived on time for your reservation this could have been avoided.
“When the manager came back a final time to politely let you know we needed to clear the table for our next guests you got up out of your seat, towering over the manager, pointing in their face.
“The manager’s response was: ‘Sir, please can you stop pointing in my face?’
Gary added: “You proceeded to tell the manager that they didn’t deserve to be a manager and weren’t qualified to be in the position.
“Your mother then joined in by adding to the vitriol being directed towards the manager.
“That’s when both you and your mother showed your true colours with the classic: ‘We’ve both worked in restaurants so we know how it works. We should be getting these drinks for free.’
“You, Rob, then threatened the manager by telling them that you would be contacting the owner because you know him, and that Gary, (me) would be appalled to know how you, ‘my friend,’ had been treated.
“The manager politely pleaded with your whole table to just listen whilst they explained. No one did.
“In a strange turn of events you emailed me, your ‘friend’ at Sticky Walnut’s email address. You must have lost my number Rob! Not surprisingly, to either me or the manager, you and I don’t know each other Rob.
“Every few months in a restaurant a rude guest will use the ‘I know the owner!’ line to try and intimidate team members and bully them into thinking that they will get into trouble because they didn’t look after the owner’s ‘friends’ well enough.
“I did read your email. I did ‘give a toss,’ but not about you Rob, but about the way you treated the team. So instead of replying to you, we chose to block your number, and your mum’s, and put a note on our booking system to not accept any future bookings from you.
“With regards to the manager who ‘doesn’t give a toss,’ they have managed Sticky Walnut for the last eight years.
“Coincidentally the same length of time that Sticky Walnut has achieved a top 100 position in the National Restaurant Awards in the UK. I think that makes them both extremely deserving to be the manager and absolutely qualified to hold that position.
“Regards, Not your mate, Gary.
“Another owner you don’t actually know.”
Savage. If you’re interested in visiting any of Gary’s restaurants, check out the Elite Bistros website where you can reserve a place at all six – we highly recommend Kala in Manchester city centre.