Washington - A Memphis restaurant is taking some heat after leaving combative messages against a customer who complained about seeing the owner's naked child running around the cafe.
The bizarre incident is a true contender for the bad customer review hall of fame - and the competition is steep, given how many weird customer-restaurant owner Yelp clashes there have been lately.
Here's what happened: A woman named Chelsea Bartley left a two-star Google review of the Imagine Vegan Cafe, saying that even though she "eat[s] here all the time" and "still probably will bc . . . there are few options," was disturbed by a recent incident in which the restaurant owner's "bare butt naked baby was running around, stood up on a table with its black theyre [sic] so dirty feet, and bent over to show me it's..." (This is a family newspaper! But she wrote that the baby showed the customer its, erm, bottom.) She said the staff just stood there and laughed.
On their now-deleted Facebook page, the restaurant owner shot back: "I am about to start calling out names and pictures of people who leave us bad reviews, especially when it deals with our children. You will no longer be allowed to come and dine at Imagine. Especially when you lie about our babies." In a later comment, the Facebook page posted, "If a one-year-old baby was upside down on a table showing everyone there [sic] [bottom] I don't think that's the biggest problem," and chastised the bystanders of this theoretical scene for not "grabb[ing] the baby before they fell." In other subsequent posts, the owners said they "couldn't even begin to care about losing business" over the incident, which is good news for them, because they almost certainly will.
And that's the most times I've ever used the word "bottom" in a story about restaurants.
In addition to the gross violations of allegedly putting dirty feet on tables and the gratuitous displays of bottoms, there are two other etiquette breaches here. When a customer has a problem in a restaurant, it's considered better to raise it with a manager during the meal, rather than suffering in silence and posting on social media later.
This gives a restaurant owner a chance to make it right - although it sounds like that may not have helped in this particular situation. The other is that restaurant owners who are in the business of hospitality should probably try to make it up to a customer who has had a truly bad experience and win their business back.
The reviews have become so bombastic that they inspired a segment on The Tonight Show, with host Jimmy Fallon and guest Aziz Ansari playing the roles of patron and owner.
As for Imagine Vegan cafe? It has deleted its social media accounts.