Alcohol Law Changes: What alcohol promos should businesses not promote on MenuMania?

December 16th, 2013


With the new Alcohol Law Changes taking effect on Wednesday 18 December 2013, what alcohol promotions should eating establishments not post on MenuMania (or outside the licensed premises)?

For helpful details: click below to read the:

Restaurant Association guidelines or Hospitality New Zealand has a link to The Health Promotions Agency’s guidance on alcohol promotions.

Some key new points include:

It is an offence to: Promote or advertise discounts on alcohol of 25% or more, anywhere that can be seen or heard from outside the licensed premises;

It is an offence to: Promote or advertise free alcohol.

Click here for another helpful summary from Wellington City Council.

TV3 story on MenuMania Restaurant Reviews

November 28th, 2013

3News are currently doing a story on online restaurant reviews (“Restaurants hit back at ‘difficult’ online reviews”)
Below is our response to the  TV3 reporter’s questions emailed to MenuMania.

“Thanks for giving us the opportunity to have a say in your story.
Much appreciated, as we are in fact thoroughly passionate about the restaurant industry in New Zealand, and love to see businesses thriving with successful restaurants and plenty of happy diners.
(Some restaurant owners have the misconception that MenuMania is out there to ‘get them’. But that could not be further from the truth.)
Please see our answers to your questions below.”

Q: How fair is a system which only allows one side of a story?
A: It is not correct to say that the system only allows one side of a story. Over the years, MenuMania has worked with both the Restaurant Association and Hospitality New Zealand to strike a balanced and fair process between restaurant owners and diners who write reviews.
MenuMania offers a suite of FREE tools for restaurant owners to help them manage their reviews.
Step 1: Restaurant owners can send a private message to a reviewer to request further information to help them get to the bottom of the situation.
Step 2: If the owner was unable to resolve the situation privately then the owner can post an Owner Comment which appears directly underneath that review and everyone can read it.
The Owner Comments can be used to tell potential customers what the restaurant has done to address a specific concern raised by a reviewer, provide correct information when a review contains inaccurate or outdated information, or provide the restaurant’s version of a difficult situation. Remember, all that other diners want to see, is that the restaurant owners care about their customers, and that they are passionate about their food and looking after their clientele.

These two tools (direct ‘private messaging’ & public ‘owner comments’) allow for a two-way communication between business owners and customers and is certainly not one sided at all.

Q: Business owners say it is nearly impossible to get Menumania to remove inherently unfair reviews. What do you make of this?
A: What is your definition of ‘inherently unfair’? MenuMania can’t be mediator or judge when it comes to factual disputes in a review, there are always two sides to every story – so the business owner needs to contact the reviewer privately or post a public response to clarify any misunderstandings. If however, the review violates MenuMania’s Content Guidelines (eg, racist content, or a confessed ex-employee), or also if the review is highly extreme in someway (eg, an accusation of food-poisoning – which is treated in an entirely different way and not published), then we strongly urge everyone to bring the review to our attention straight away.

Every time an unfavourable review is posted on a restaurant’s page, the restaurant owner automatically receives an email (assuming they have claimed their business listing). The email provides a link to information on how best to manage their reviews. Those restaurant owners who have become familiar with using MenuMania as a tool for communicating with their customers will take the time to read this information and respond to the review appropriately. Usually, the business owners who you describe as unhappy, are the ones who have ‘yet to learn’ how to deal with social media, and some of these particular owners resort to blaming MenuMania for their frustration with not yet understanding how to use the simple but effective MenuMania tools available to them. They perhaps are not aware how important it is to put just a little bit of time into looking after their customers who have shared about a not-so-good experience at their restaurant in the ever-growing social media space. Some of these restaurant owners feel that their customers are unqualified to comment because they are not professional ‘food critics’, and fall into the trap of simply ignoring the feedback.

We would like to extend as much online help as possible to those restaurant owners who haven’t yet started engaging fully with their diners on MenuMania. It may take a mindset shift for some business owners to realise that MenuMania is actually a really positive forum through which to interact with their customers – both happy and unhappy ones. We have seen really wonderful results with those owners who have written personally to an unhappy customer. Just as in the restaurant setting, so much depends on how complaints are handled. The hard-feelings around the initial cause for the complaint can vanish very quickly when staff are graceful and helpful, and go out of their way to make things right. But when a diner makes a complaint about their food or experience and the staff are rude or neglectful in return, the diner’s experience only gets worse. This same kind of process occurs on MenuMania, and we really encourage restaurant owners to treat this as a positive way to address their customers’ concerns in a safe and non-threatening online space.

Click here to see an example of how Euro Restaurant’s handling of some negative comments in a customer review led to a positive update from the reviewer:

Check out this link if you’d like to see more independent advice on how to turn a negative review into a positive thing for a business.

Q: Do you think reviewers need to be held accountable for the potential damage they are doing to businesses?
A: Of course people need to review responsibly, and in line with the MenuMania’s Review Guidelines, which are displayed on the page where people write reviews. MenuMania is merely a forum, where people share about their good and not-so-good eating out experiences with fellow diners online, just like people share their opinions online on the articles that TV3 publishes on its website.
Also, all eating establishments in NZ are on a level playing field to begin with, as every eating establishment in NZ has a listing on MenuMania. The reality is that most restaurants across MenuMania have a sprinkling of unfavourable reviews, and anecdotal feedback shows us that MenuMania diners know to take reviews and ratings with ‘a grain of salt’, as they know that all opinions are just that – one person’s subjective opinion is a reflection of personal taste.
The other reality is that consumers have the right to talk about what they like (and don’t like) about an eating-out experience. It’s no different than people telling others online what you think about a fridge you just purchased.
When restaurant owners who have become familiar with using MenuMania as a tool for communicating with their customers engage with the process, then they can entirely mitigate the impact of a negative review. It’s also useful to note that having several rave reviews, with the occasional negative one mixed in, is actually beneficial to a business, because the odd negative comment reinforces the credibility of that business’s dominant positive reviews.

Q: Do you think bad reviewers are aware of the consequences of their actions?
A: People do have the right to talk about their experience at a restaurant where they have spent their hard earned dollars. We live in a free country and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Some reviewers choose to not give any feedback to the restaurant while still on the premises, in order to avoid any potential conflict with the owner or the staff. Some people will tell owners at the restaurant and will also then go on to write a review about that experience online. That’s the nature of the world of social media that we live in. Nowadays, people share about anything & everything online.

Q: It is easy to find plenty of reviews on the website which give one star reviews for reasons such as too much garlic in the garlic bread, or a ten minute wait. Statistically, these one star ratings drag down the overall rating for otherwise four and five star restaurants, for no reason other than that there are no repercussions for this behaviour. Is this a problem? If so, does it need to be fixed?
A: 75% of the reviews on MenuMania are positive. The example of ‘too much garlic’ or ‘a ten minute wait’ were probably not the only reasons that contributed to the unfavourable review. Food is such a personal taste and everyone has a different opinion.

Q: The Menumania system is easily corruptible – both by businesses posting their own reviews and by competing businesses posting bad reviews. How does Menumania control this?
A: It’s incorrect to say that the system is easily corruptible. In an effort to maximize trustworthiness of the reviews, MenuMania actively filters out suspicious reviews through a combination of community self-policing and automated filtering. The system is designed to make sure the reviews that consumers rely on are as authentic and useful as possible. More information about MenuMania’s review filter can be found here.
While the system is not perfect (what social media system is perfect), we believe that overall it does a great job.

Restaurant Owner backlash about Reviews: Tomato Cafe owner defends MenuMania.

November 28th, 2013

James Pettengill, Tomato Cafe owner, clarifies his position about the “Stuff” article on 22 November 2013*.  Thanks James!: 

“Hi MenuMania,

By the way, I appear to have been misquoted (which is not uncommon) regarding your site, I only commented on the fact I felt it was a little rough people could post anonymously but [that I] enjoyed [having] the final right of reply the website provided me. For the record Menumania has been overall really good for our business and its functionality is fine. Anyway, should drive a spike of traffic to web site, which is never bad. Thanks for everything and sorry if I (appear to have) criticised  the site, (I was only referring to some of the public who use it) there is nothing wrong with the site. 

Cheers, James, Owner, Tomato Cafe


* “Cafe owner hits back at ‘toxic’ online critic”


The Food Show Christchurch – congratulations to 10 winners

September 13th, 2013

Thanks to all the entrants for The Food Show Christchurch competition this year – congratulations to 10 winners who each received a single ticket (they have all been notified directly):
Have a fun time at The Food Show!!

Feast for the Future – 21 September 2013

August 25th, 2013

On September 21st you will once again have a chance to support Garden to Table by dining, at any time during the day, at one of these participating cafe’s and restaurants and the donation is on the house.

Participating restaurants support us by donating a portion of the days profit to Garden to Table. Many offer something special on the menu to mark the day, such as Cool Food cafe’s special chocolate brownie or the Hip Group’s orange juice made with fruit from their own orchards.

Over the last two years Feast for the Future has raised over $20,000. These funds are used to sustain and expand the the trust’s work. Let’s make this year a record.

All we ask of you is that you let the restaurant you dine at that day, for breakfast, lunch or dinner, know that you are ‘feasting for the future‘. Thank you in advance for your support.

Here’s a list of all the restuarants and cafe’s that have signed up so far. We’ll add new ones each day. And if your local is not on the list perhaps you’d like to encourange them to sign up. They can email us here

Cafe on Kohi
Cool Food
Eight at The Langham – lunch and dinner
Hectors at The Heritage Hotel - special Feast for the Future menu to be announced
Ima Cuisine
Kokako Cafe
O’Connell Street Bistro
Ponsonby Road Bistro
Richmond Road Cafe
Rosehip Cafe
St Heliers Bay Cafe and Bistro
Tasca Newmarket
Takapuna Beach Cafe and Store
The French Cafe
The Grill
The Store at Kohi
The Store St Heliers
The Store at Britomart
The Sugar Club
The Winery at The Langham - Tiffin High Tea

Fake reviews or Genuine Negative Reviews on MenuMania?

April 29th, 2013

What if a Restaurant receives a negative review on MenuMania, or if the owner is suspicious of possible fake reviews?  It has emerged this week that some cafe and restaurant owners are not yet aware of the clear process to follow.

We have just come across one particular case where the owner chose to not follow the process, so they have become caught in a frustrating dead-lock with the reviewer, after failing to communicate appropriately.

Below is a summary of the events that  actually happened, and lessons learnt.  Which we hope will help other restaurant owners to not fall into the same trap, even if they feel suspicious that there has been a ‘fake review’ – there is so much you can do to manage the situation.  Just follow the process.


Hi Charn,

RE: Your restaurant’s negative reviews on MenuMania

Cristian from MenuMania here.

I’m worried about how you’ve ended up feeling frustrated.

I have reviewed the entire case, and can see where your plan to communicate with your reviewer ‘Angela’ went awry.  Unfortunately, 5 months ago you chose not to make contact with the reviewer directly even though we recommended you do so privately.  The first feedback she heard from you about her review was yesterday.  However, the nature of your private messages didn’t follow the recommendations about approaching the customer to resolve the issue with an attitude of deep concern.

The main tool that we strongly emphasise to restaurant owners (you’ll recall our email to you many months ago), is to thoroughly read and follow the Review Guidelines.

MenuMania has a process in place for how to manage reviews on MenuMania of which you were made aware promptly the first time you contacted MenuMania.

In your first email to our Reviews Team, you raised your concerns with MenuMania in regard to reviews posted by Amanda, Angela, and Rangimarie on your MenuMania page.

MenuMania advised you of MenuMania’s process on how to manage your reviews.

You started off really well with managing the negative reviews – you sent a private message to Amanda as per MenuMania’s guidelines. Your private message to Amanda was in a non-threatening manner where you introduced yourself, showed that you care and and that you listen to customer’s feedback and you assumed that the reviewer is a genuine customer.

Amanda did not respond to your polite private message asking her to reply back to you with further details, so you notified us and MenuMania investigated and filtered out the review (MenuMania expects diners to stand by their reviews when the owner politely seeks further details about the reviewer’s experience at their eating establishment).

You also posted an Owner’s Comment to Rangimarie’s review, a day after the review was posted on your MenuMania page. However, you never sent a private message to Rangimarie as per MenuMania’s process.  However it appears you chose to ‘take this one on the chin’ and simply demonstrated to other diners by writing a public ‘Owner’s Comment’ (instead of communicating with her) how sincere and passionate you are about your food, your customers, and your business as a whole – great!

You handled another complaint really well from ‘Rhonda’ – with a thoughtful ‘Owner’s Comment’.

But then, unfortunately, on 20th November 2012, when you posted an Owner’s Comment to Angela’s review 4 days after the review was posted, you did not send a private message to Angela as per our process until 5 months later.

The classic Customer Service approach was missing in your Owner’s Comment, and also by not contacting her directly.  Unfortunately, you chose to send your first private message to Angela 5 months after the event, but you did not express any concern for her situation, and made it clear that you were insinuating that she was not a genuine customer. You bluntly started pointing out some of the statements in her review that you believe are false. In your message you requested Angela to call you or come to your restaurant to show evidence of receipts and discuss the matter.  To avoid any confrontation, no customer would ever bother to call or ever want to go back to a restaurant they did not enjoy, and even less so to engage with an angry owner who showed no concern about their bad dining experience.

Within hours of your first private message in April 2013 to Angela, you sent a pretty blunt second private message in which you asked her to get back to you within one week with evidence that her claims were true.  To this, Angela responded very promptly turning down your invitation which was not surprising given your bluntness and brushing off the validity of any points she made about her negative experience at your restaurant in her review.

A few hours later you sent another very blunt and rather threatening third private message in which you gave Angela no incentive to respond. No one responds well to threats and from a 101 Customer Services point of view it’s a very unprofessional way to treat customers.

It’s clear that your handling of Angela’s review has come short and although you have ‘gone public’ with your frustrations against MenuMania, we feel that you do need to take responsibility for not following correctly our guidelines and process of how to handle your reviews.  MenuMania cannot be held accountable for your poor handling of an unhappy customer and for this reason MenuMania cannot remove Angela’s review as you’ve requested.

MenuMania does not take sides when it comes to factual disputes because MenuMania can’t be the judge and we stand by that. It’s up to the owner to follow the review process correctly in a professional and non-threatening manner.

Also, we believe that it’s dangerous to have the default perception that a reviewer is fake… what if a reviewer is a genuine customer? (So many times we’ve had restaurant owners coming back to us ‘eating humble pie’ after realising that their anger was misdirected and that the reviewer was 100% their genuine customer).  That’s why MenuMania has built the Reviews Process for managing a negative review the way we have.  The main aim is to draw the reviewer out and generate a two-way communication between you as the owner, and the diner. Typically, the reviews team needs to see that you’ve followed the process through correctly.

Filtering the review of a genuine customer could do more damage to your business, than solve anything… because that customer could go to some other medium to vent:  Keep in mind that it’s really a good thing that your customers post their comments on MenuMania – where you have the ability to communicate with ‘real people’ who work at the website about the reviews, rather than the reviewer posting something negative on Google or Trip Advisor or their Facebook pages/ Twitter…. where you have absolutely no control!

This is a great article I found that reinforces some of these ideas:

We wish you all the best with your business.

Kind regards


Depot team delighted to settle for Winner of Best Casual Bistro at the 2013 Metro Restaurant of the Year Awards.

April 23rd, 2013

Metro Emirates Restaurant of the Year Awards 2013 results:

Supreme Winner: The French Café
Runner-up: The Engine Room

Top 10: Cocoro, Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar, Kazuya, O’Connell Street Bistro, Ortolana, Sidart, Te Whau, The Grove

Best Fine Dining: The French Café
Runners-up: Sidart, The Grove

Best Casual Bistro: Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar
Runner-up: Ortolana

Winner of Best Casual Bistro at the 2013 Metro Restaurant of the Year Awards! (Blue cheese mascarpone & as always Salash Delicatessen prosciutto!)

Best Smart Dining: O’Connell Street Bistro
Runner-up: Cocoro

Best Upmarket Bistro: The Engine Room
Runner-up: Te Whau

Best Chef: Simon Wright (The French Café)

Highly commended: Ben Bayly (The Grove), Nick Honeyman (The Commons), Michael Meredith (Merediths), Sid Sahrawat (Sidart) , Makoto Tokuyama (Cocoro) Kazuya Yamauchi (Kazuya)

Best Service: The French Café
Runners-up: Soul, Kazuya

Best Rural: Te Whau
Runners-up: Bracu, Casita Miro

Best Asian: Cocoro
Runner-up: Ebisu

Best Italian: Totó
Runner-up: The Refreshment Room

Best Drinks List: Cocoro
Highly commended: Clooney, Molten, Number 5, The French Cafe

Best Short Drink List: Ponsonby Road Bistro
Highly commended: Eight.Two, Depot, Sidart, Sunday Painters

Best New Restaurant: Kazuya
Runner-up: Ortolana

Best Value for Money: Mexico
Highly commended Kazuya

Personality of the Year: Ganesh Raj (The Tasting Shed)

“Simple, fresh, flavorsome and colorful food that appeal to all five senses”

February 26th, 2013

Well known restaurateur brings new concept in contemporary Indian fine dining to Epsom Together with Executive Chef Chandan and industry veteran interior designer Milly, the prolific restaurateur, Daya Shanker, is soon to open the doors to his newest culinary concept restaurant here in Auckland. Previously operating as“Raviz” on Manukau Rd, Epsom, Daya and his team have spent the last several months transforming the restaurant into Taj Indian Bistro & Bar for Contemporary Indian Dining.

With his mastery of the cuisine, Daya, together with executive chef Chandan, have created a varied menu of upscale, authentic a la carte dishes.
With the motto; simple, fresh, flavorsome and colorful food that appeal to all five senses, the crew at Taj believe that you should not have to miss out on taste just because you follow a special diet. Taj also caters to special diet groups like vegetarians and vegans. They also serve Halal meat and gluten-free delicacies. The unique and inventive interior design has been kept a closely guarded secret only to be revealed on the grand opening night in early March.
With themed nights planned for the coming weeks, including entertainment from local artists, Taj Bistro offers a ‘destination restaurant’ where people can come and stay for the whole evening enjoying a relaxed, romantic Indo-Chinese atmosphere.
Taj Bistro has a capacity for 40 settings in three separate areas; one relaxed dining area for couples, one Indo-Chinese lounge and an outside tiered decked space. The Taj has something for everyone especially those who delight in new dining experiences in elegant, ambient settings.

TAJ Bistro & Bar is unique in the area as the only Bistro to offer two separate menus; ,Fusion and contemporary Indian cuisine.
The “Lassi Bar” will be worth a visit on its own, with a drink list consisting of more than 20 brands of beer, stouts, brown, pale and light ales and premium lagers from all around the world as well as some of the most exclusive and best selections of vodkas, rums and gins. We bet we have some cocktails on the list that you’ve never tried before.
Contact Daya below to find out more and get your private invitation to the grand opening.
Taj Indian Bistro & Bar

Daya Shanker

Mixed Vegetable Platter - Mixture of vegetable Samosa,Palak Rolls and onion bhajis (Vegan) at Taj Bistro

Mt Zion is for anyone who’s ever enjoyed a good hangi

November 27th, 2012






Stan Walker rocks in Mt Zion. My excuse for raving about this great new NZ movie on MenuMania, is that if you’ve ever enjoyed a good hangi, you’ll enjoy this movie ;)  I saw it last night, and Stan can act. And the music in it made my soul sing (thanks Shane McLean; and Andy Gibson too).  Anyone who loves good music, and a bit of NZ Maori culture will love this. Go see it when it comes out on 6 February 2013.  Director Tearepa Kahi has done every Kiwi a favour here, with this beautiful piece of storytelling. I absolutely loved it. :) Karen at MenuMania.

Check out the trailer here.

By the way, click here to read a proper review by Scott Kara of NZ Herald, 1 Feb 2013.

Regional towns dominate Café of the Year competition

October 31st, 2012

October 30th, 2012

Creative cuisine and home-grown hospitality are the winners in this year’s NZ Café of the Year competition with the top 15 finalists coming from regional New Zealand.

With around 400 cafés involved in the nationwide competition and more than 20,000 public votes, it is Warkworth, Timaru, Te Kuiti, Napier, Greymouth and Gore which host some of the country’s most popular small eateries.

In its inaugural year, the NZ Café of the Year competition pits cafés from the length and breadth of the country against each other.

The top three café finalists in the five regions are:

Upper North Island: Chocolate Brown (Warkworth), Urban Soul (Botany, Auckland) and Paper Moon (Mairangi Bay, Auckland).

Central North Island: Bosco Café (TeKuiti), Capers Café (Rotorua) and Corogate Café (Thames).

Lower North Island: Mega Café (Masterton), Café Ahuriri (Napier) and Macfarlanes Café (Inglewood).

Upper South Island: Maggies Kitchen (Greymouth), Artisan by Rangiora Bakery (Rangiora) and Luciano Espresso Bar (Christchurch).

Lower South Island: The Roost Café (Oamaru), Jagz of Village Green (Invercargill) and The Green Room Café (Gore).

An expert team of judges, organised by the Restaurant Association of NZ, will now begin the judging process and select the overall winner.

The winning café claims the title of NZ Café of the Year 2012 and will feature on the popular primetime TV segment Food in a Minute.

Screening across two weeks, the Food in a Minute episodes will be filmed on-site at the winning café and will showcase their award-winning beans and bacon dish, the creation of which was one of the key entry criteria for the competition.

In addition, the winning café has its recipe emailed to the Food in a Minute database of more than 100,000 fans. The dish also features on recipe cards in-store at supermarkets. It also appears on the Food in a Minute and Café of the Year websites and Facebook pages.

Some rather creative bacon and bean dishes are among the finalists including Warkworth’s Chocolate Brown “Kiwi Special”. It features Wattie’s Baked Beans, crispy Kiwi Bacon, home-made potato rosti, soft poached egg, fresh herb salsa verde and watercress.

Another clever creation comes from Café Ahuriri in Napier with its classic dish with a twist – a filo shell filled with Wattie’s Baked Beans with an egg cracked over the top, finished with a dusting of Grana Padano cheese. It is baked in the oven until crisp and served on a bed of crispy streaky Kiwi Bacon and topped with mascarpone cheese and spring onion curls. The dish is finished with a watercress pesto drizzle.

“We’re delighted with the calibre of the cuisine we are seeing in this competition,” says Kristy Blackman, Kiwi Bacon senior marketing manager. “There are some truly classic dishes coming through and one of them is set to be enshrined as a Kiwi favourite.”

Public voting determined the 15 regional finalists and now the cafés are being judged on appearance, atmosphere, service, meals and overall experience by an expert team of judges.

The overall winner of the 2012 NZ Café of the Year competition will be announced on November 12.

The Food in a Minute segments featuring the winning dish are set to screen on TV1 and TV2 from 26 November.

For more information go to