First, I need to start by saying, and I cannot make this clear enough, I am not perfect and my team is not perfect. We try our very best each day to make delicious food for our customers in the restaurant. I will admit that some days our best is just not good enough. We make mistakes and sometimes they are not easily corrected.
From cutting vegetables and washing lettuce to preparing the actual meals for the customers, each day is a grind; a fast-paced dance of cooks meticulously moving in and around one another like mice in a maze with invisible walls. We work holidays, evenings, weekends and pretty much every moment our family or friends are out enjoying themselves. As we work all day, things get heated, literally, and can be very stressful when there is a room filled with hungry people.
Now, I wholeheartedly realize that we have chosen this career path, and in no way am I complaining about our crazy industry. For most of us, cooking is in our blood or even our DNA. For me, cooking is my passion and the thing that drives me each day to get up, walk into my tiny little kitchen and do my very best to lead a team of kick-ass young people to feed, as my husband would say, “millions” each and every day.
I have a lot of passion for most things I do in life, but there is something unique about cooking, it is what fuels my fire and makes me feel like I am doing something truly great. Feeding people, filling their empty stomachs and seeing them walk away fulfilled is one of the many things that brings me true happiness.
When I get a bad review online I am not impressed, I will even admit I feel down about myself, my team and the restaurant. I know bad reviews, for the most part, are not directed at me personally, but rather something that went wrong when our imperfections showed themselves. Sometimes, it’s hard to differentiate the two as this restaurant is my second home, my second family and the place I spend about 75% of my time.
Technology gives us the option of sharing our thoughts on everything in life, which, for the most part, is a great thing. I know that bad reviews are something any restaurant, and almost any industry, will have to deal with. But what gets me is the people who feel the need to completely rip apart what we do on daily basis. Regularly, these review are based on one bad experience, or even one simple thing that went wrong during their visit on that specific day. Most of the time, these unhappy customers will not speak up when they are in the establishment and let us try to fix the situation. Instead, they hide behind their keyboards, write nasty things and, nine times out of ten, make the situation sound a lot worse than it actually was.
Our customers work hard for their money, just like we do, so I understand that in the restaurant industry we need to do an excellent job each day, but again, we are not perfect. And, for that matter, no one is! We try our very best to give our customers a good experience and quality food at a fair price. This may seem simple to many people, but some people’s expectations and lack of patience truly amaze me. I think sometimes people forget that, for the most part, the place they are reviewing is run by people who are trying their hardest to make a living and do something they love.
I believe that everyone would benefit from working in either retail or food service for at least one week in their life. Then maybe they would understand that they are not the only table in the place and that the staff deserves a ton of respect for what they do. And, most importantly, it may provide some perspective to those who enjoy the hard work that restaurant staff do.
Despite the frustration of a bad review, I am thankful for those reviewers. Thankful for being given things to improve on and think about. Thankful for being made aware that someone’s experience was not up to their expectations. And, most importantly, I am happy for those reviewers that this small problem at our restaurant was the worst part of their day. I am grateful that the experience at my restaurant was so important to that reviewer’s that they took time out of their busy day to write a bad review. I would just like to remind you, the next time you write a bad review, we are all human and no one is perfect. Not even you!
Melissa Hryb is the chef at Marion Street Eatery, where she specializes in hearty comfort food with a twist.
Follow her on Twitter @MarionStreetEat or Instagram @MarionStreetEatery