Restaurant Shows Us All How To Deal With Negative, Trolling Online Review

from the golf-clap dept

We’ve seen a wide range of methods businesses have devised for dealing with less than praising online reviews of their operations. Some choose to threaten libel. Others promise fines. Still others invoke a sort of holy legal wrath, with the weight of the Almighty tipping the scales of justice. Mind you, none of these methods does much to ingratiate the business to the public and often backfires completely by bringing attention to the negative reviews that otherwise would have been completely absent. A new method is clearly needed.

That’s where the Atomic Grill in Morgantown, WV, comes in. They too were faced with an online review that was not only not entirely positive, but also incorporated the caveman-ish request that employees of the eatery “show more skin”, because food without near-nipple just doesn’t taste as good, apparently. The owner of the grill, Daniel McCawley, was understandably less than pleased.

“It was brutish. I was upset. I’m a father of a 12-year-old girl and I’ve got five sisters,” McCawley said. “The way that women are treated is pretty personal as far as I’m concerned.”

Agreed. But what to do about it? Lawsuits don’t seem to work, as shown above, and anger on its own isn’t all that effective. Plus, there’s that probably-not-correct platitude that “the customer is always right.” So McCawley decided to marry his revulsion to that concept and concede defeat to the review in the best way possible. He decided to “show more skin.”

From now through Memorial Day, Atomic Grill will be offering a potato skin special for $7, and 100% of the proceeds will go directly to the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information Services. He said the restaurant has so far received a “tremendous” amount of support. “My Facebook blew up overnight,” he said. “I really hope this will be a positive thing.”

So, he provided “more skin” in the form of potato skins, avoided any legal nonsense, showed himself to be an admirably level-headed business owner while still retaining a moral compass, and subsequently generated a ton of goodwill and publicity for his business. That’s how it’s done, overly legal business owners. A little humor mixed with social shaming does the job so much better than profit-milking lawyers.

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Comments on “Restaurant Shows Us All How To Deal With Negative, Trolling Online Review”

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That Anonymous Cowardsays:

This is a very smart business owner.
He directly addressed the “complaint” without taking it as a personal affront.
He took the highroad and turned something he found distasteful into something wonderful.

Business exposure like this, you can’t really buy.
He will always be ‘the guy who gave the troll more skin’.


Re: Re:

The owner took what is a normally a no-win situation and converted it into a positive. I have no idea if the place is any good (I do not live near it so I truly do not know) but the effort shown generated a lot of good will.

Negative reviews are not always bad. They can point out problems, if the reviewer went beyond the generic complaint. Or they can point out to others issues others need to consider.

Anonymous Cowardsays:

Good on Atomic Grill

I agree with the majority, Good on Atomic Grill.

Also, the last sentence: “A little humor mixed with social shaming does the job so much better than profit-milking lawyers.” provoked a thought.

We’ve all seen the results of the “profit-milking lawyers”. However, those lawyers don’t operate without the support (overt, tacit, supine or negligent) of corporate management. I mean that it appears to me that where there are “profit-milking lawyers” there are bad executives.

Is there anywhere available on the Internet a centralized listing of the companies where this type of lawyer and their supporting bad executives rule?

I and many others have a little money set aside in retirement investment accounts. I believe that investing in businesses with “profit-milking lawyers” and bad executives is likely to deliver a poor return. I’d like to “adjust” the investments I manually control, and make an issue with the managers of the mutual funds I hold. Thanks.


Re: Good on Atomic Grill

“Also, the last sentence: “A little humor mixed with social shaming does the job so much better than profit-milking lawyers.” provoked a thought.”

It provoked a thought for me too, but it’s more like:

Why does everything have to be looked at in such a black and white way? Why are we looking like there are only two choices, play it for social media or sue? Isn’t it much more realistic to consider that there were any number of responses possible to this negative review, including pretty much ignoring it?

Since the original post is gone, it’s a little hard to draw any conclusion here as to what is the best or most appropriate action. However, the play it for social media angle is pretty good, they get credit.

Much of this reminds me of a period about 20 years ago when businesses were all swallowing the “Knock Your Socks Off Service” concept hook line and sinker. That was long before online social marketing, but it played the same way. That fad pretty much disappeared, now it’s mostly filler material for mid range motivational speakers doing the rubber chicken circuit.

It Was Probably the Football Fans Talking.

Here’s my bump of local knowledge, as a resident of Morgantown. The Atomic Grill is not listed in the local restaurant guide, distributed around the city, nor does it have a display add in the local yellow pages.

The Atomic Grill seems to be out at the intersection of Greenbag Road and Dorsey Ave, on the southern edge of Morgantown. I believe I walked along Greenbag Road near there, about fifteen years ago, but I haven’t been back since because there was no reason, and it was not very pedestrian-friendly, cars passing me at a distance of about a foot at forty miles an hour, or the alternative of trying to walk in a drainage ditch filled with six-inch stones.

The location is a long way from the lunch market, which is mostly centered around the hospital district and the university’s downtown campus, the places where most of the well-paid employment is concentrated. The cross-town roads are limited in capacity, and the hills are steep enough that it would be prohibitively expensive to rebuild the roads, and require tearing down too many buildings. The most practical method to get to the Atomic Grill would be to drive out to the interstate, take a loop around the city, and come in from the other side. On that basis, you would pass something like half the restaurants in Morgantown.

The remark about not having sufficiently naked waitresses sounds like the sort of thing a football fan would say. Football fans are like that. Morgantown’s population approximately triples during a football game, and all the closer-in restaurants get swamped, as a matter of course. Every football Saturday, we have the mother of all traffic jams. However, inconvenient it may be to the hospital district, the Atomic Grill’s location is pretty convenient to I-68, which is to say that it is easy to get to if you are coming into town on the interstate from either the South or the East Coast. I understand that the Atomic Grill’s prices are very high for Morgantown. I suspect that’s a bit like an airport restaurant. They must make a major share of their money from football fans, by virtue of their location. If you are driving back to Alabama after the football game, the Atomic Grill would not be too far out of your way, and far enough from the stadium to be clear of the crowds. I gather that the Atomic Grill’s cuisine is very southern (pulled pork, fried green tomatoes, etc.). The location is also along the logical route from almost anywhere in West Virginia, Kentucky, or Southern Missouri to the East Coast. There are a limited number of highways crossing the Appalachian Mountains, and traffic from a quite wide area gets funneled past Greenbag Road.

There is of course a Hooters-type restaurant in town, whose advertisement in the restaurant guide features a waitress in abbreviated costume, but no description of the food, but this restaurant is located a mere half mile from the hospitals and the stadium.

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