The Piccolo debacle: “Food flies when diner angers Ramsay-esque chef”

Regarding the Piccolo Ristorante Italiano fiasco that’s been followed loudly in the NZ Herald over the weekend, there are always two sides to a story!  (Read articles: Side 1; Side 2)

My main concern is that I hope a story like this doesn’t deter other diners around the country from complaining face-to-face to restaurant management if they ever have a problem with their meal.

This Piccolo incident is the most extreme set of reactions I’ve ever seen described on MenuMania in the 6 years since its inception.
We love reviews and we value the dining community’s viewpoint – MenuMania has provided a space for that, and we welcome all fair and genuine comment about an eating-out experience.

The MenuMania team is also wildly passionate about NZ eating establishments, and we always want to see them thrive and deliver fantastic food & service to New Zealand’s food-loving populace.
So we also agree with the ‘Restaurant Association of NZ’, and ‘Hospitality New Zealand’ that diners should tell the restaurant immediately, face to face, if they have any issues.
Then the staff & management have the all-important chance to fix a problem.

But people do seem to love a juicy story about a dining experience gone wrong, don’t they.
Thank goodness the majority of MenuMania’s reviews are positive, and I find that where there’s a negative review relating to the service, it almost always comes down to mis-communication (the customer thought the waiter meant something he didn’t, etc…)

Sometimes us kiwi-types get all hot-under-the-collar if we misinterpret the way someone has asked us a perfectly practical question. It can make us a bit defensive. I see the odd reviewer who writes something like “I’m a regular at this establishment, I’ve loved it for years, I’ve never written a review before, but due to their terrible effort last time, I’m writing about how bad this restaurant is now.” But they haven’t taken the time to speak directly to the restaurant management about it at all. And I also see the opposite, where diners who have taken the risk to speak-up, then get severely knocked back by an over-defensive staff member.

Is it a deep-seated lack of self-esteem that causes people on both sides of the counter to react so emotionally to what should be a professional situation?

Bad service experiences almost always come down to mis-communication.

Communicate people, communicate! TELL the manager right there and then! Don’t be shy, and don’t be too sensitive either! Most restaurant owner-operators are busting a gut to get a 5% profit out of their business if they’re lucky… trying to keep all those people employed… trying to live out their passion for good food… But no one’s perfect … And if you don’t tell them face to face that something’s amiss, how will they ever fix it? Kiwis, show a little mercy. But by the same token, Restauranteurs, don’t be too defensive! Take it all with a big grain of salt. Opinion is just opinion.

So, with this Piccolo incident, it concerns me terribly that a diner was brave enough to say they weren’t happy about something face to face, and whilst sure, they perhaps have done something to inflame the situation, that customer never deserved to receive the foul-language and stand-over tactics in the first place.

Some Kiwis are notorious for not communicating about their dissatisfaction face-to-face… notorious for saying everything’s ‘fine’, when it’s not… so I just hope that other restaurants don’t suffer if diners get even more fearful of speaking up on the spot if there’s a problem.

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2 Responses to “The Piccolo debacle: “Food flies when diner angers Ramsay-esque chef””

  1. Joseph Moon says:

    who wrote this?

  2. Karen Gibson says:

    Hi Joseph,

    I wrote it. :)
    Any questions?

    Karen Gibson – GM of MenuMania.

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