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Restaurant learns online reviews can make or break

Cristina Silva | May 22, 2013
An Arizona restaurateur, fed up after years of negative online reviews and an embarrassing appearance on a reality television show, posted a social media rant laced with salty language quickly went viral last week.

Baer said he tells clients to create a response matrix representing different potential complaints that staff can refer to whenever bad feedback arises. Creating the comment chart before the bad publicity hits helps ensure businesses aren't responding to angry or disappointed customers with their own anger or disappointment, Baer said.

A 2011 Harvard study found Yelp's 40 million reviews disproportionately affect small businesses. The research found a one-star increase in Yelp's five-star rating system resulted in a revenue jump of up to 9 percent for some restaurants, while chains with sizable advertising budgets were unaffected.

"You have to respond 100 percent of the time, whether you like it or not," Baer said. "Businesses need to assign someone to stay on top of it."

In Arizona, Amy and Samy Bouzaglo had planned a grand reopening ceremony and news conference for Tuesday, but the news conference was canceled late Monday after legal threats from Fox.

Fewer than a dozen people were waiting when the restaurant reopened Tuesday. Four guards blocked the door and turned reporters away. Inside, a smiling Samy Bouzaglo posed for pictures and told customers that the tension captured in the episode was staged. That was a disappointment for some.

"I wanted it to be dramatic and people yelling," said Ricky Potts, a 29-year-old blogger who ate at the restaurant for the first time Tuesday only to declare the food good and the service routine. "Basically, I wanted it to be the circus that the TV episode was."



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