Twitter shaming: Should restaurants call out no-shows?

NEED TO KNOW
  • Red Medicine named no-shows via their Twitter account
  • The tweets garnered mixed reactions from their followers
  • Atlanta chef Ron Eyester: Restaurant owners need to be careful with social media
Twitter shaming: Should restaurants call out no-shows?
Ron

When it comes to putting your money where your mouth is, Los Angeles restaurant Red Medicine takes the old adage quite literally. On March 13, the restaurant dealt with that evening's reservation no-shows in a very unique way: by calling out the delinquent diners by name via their official Twitter account.

The outspoken dining spot took flak for their transmission almost instantly, but they also gained some praise. "These so called 'customers' could have the decency to cancel their res instead of no showing. Empty seats cost $$$," a New Jersey restaurant tweeted in return.

This isn't the first time that restaurant owners have taken to social media to express their frustration with customer behavior. Atlanta BBQ spot Boners BBQ called out a diner for skipping out on the tip after using a coupon when she ate there. The restaurant linked directly to the customer's personal Facebook account, but later deleted the tweet and issued an apology to her.

With social media playing a more integral role in business than ever, it's all too easy to use it for good -- or for evil. But is using it to call out customers bad form, or simply a logical evolution in a world where almost everything is discussed in the public forum the Internet provides? HLN spoke to Ron Eyester, executive chef and owner of Atlanta's Rosebud restaurant, to get his take on the topic. Eyester is known for his "tell it like it is" Twitter account, where he tweets as @theangrychef.

When it comes to how Red Medicine handled their no-shows, Eyester says that, while restaurant owners do deserve the right to use social media, they should take care in doing so. He also says that, for restaurants, navigating the world of social media requires taking a more tactful position than the average business might choose to take.

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"If I am able to, I call people that didn't show up for their reservations and politely ask them what happened," Eyester said. "On the other hand, if you're willing to make a reservation and not show up for it, you may have to accept that you could be called out in a public forum for it."

While social media holds both potential benefits and perils for restaurant owners, Eyester believes that it is ultimately good for business, and that Twitter trumps Facebook when it comes to its usefulness to the food business. 

"Social media gives people perspective, and it has a certain level of transparency that I'm really attracted to," Eyester said. "Twitter has a very level playing field. It's almost like being in confession."

While you may have to call to snag a spot at your favorite eatery now, Eyester predicts that trend could die away in the future.

"The genre of fine dining is going extinct because of the economy," he said. "Smaller local restaurants don't require [reservations], and people enjoy that relaxed atmosphere."

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Since social media isn't going anywhere, it's safe to say that can we expect to see people putting their thoughts and opinions out there regardless of whether they offend. But can we also expect to see more of this "twitter shaming" from restaurant owners who use social media and other outlets to directly speak to their consumers?

"You may not see it right away or regularly. But you'll see it again because of the platform that Twitter provides," Eyester said. 

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