This is an unusually long -- unusual for the writer, that is -- post from Manu Chandra, one of the country's most admired and respected chefs.
It recounts how the misdeed of one errant member of The Fatty Bao team in Delhi went 'viral' on social media, with the mud-slinging turning into a barrage of allegations against the brand and its owners.
Manu Chandra narrates how swiftly they acted in the wake of the incident and what action was taken. Still, there was no undoing the damage that had already been done.
Social media allows customers to take public every complaint -- from a delay in service to, as in this case, 'swindling'. Disgruntled customers would rather vent and share than have their grievances redressed by the management of a restaurant, which is what any sensible person should do in such a circumstance. That, as Manu puts it, is 'the nature of the beast' and some people seem to derive a perverse pleasure from being able to rip apart restaurants and reputations on these very public platforms.
If it's merely a bad review, the restaurant can, perhaps, dismiss it. But accusations of a lack of professional ethics cannot be dismissed thus. So, a response such as this is called for and completely justified. Many of those who commented on Manu Chandra's post welcomed the stand he took and were clear they would not be swayed by the negative publicity.
Other restaurateurs who face similar situations may want to take a cue from this -- provided their commitment to running an ethical business is clearly established.
The other issue this incident raises is, of course, that of the integrity of your staff. I know for certain that Manu Chandra handpicks and trains his teams across his restaurants. Still, there are no guarantees against hiring the odd employee whose integrity is questionable. It's always a challenge for restaurant owners. Constant scrutiny and the sternest action against errant staff is the only way you could possibly hope to tackle these situations. It also pays to bear in mind that social media is out there, licking its chops and rubbing its hands, waiting for the slightest slip-up on the part of restaurants.