College Professor (‘Distinguished Faculty Scholar’) Schooled on Manners and Hospitality by Popular Boston Bartender

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Customer Hall of Shame

Posted: 11/13/2017

It’s one thing to act like an asshole (perhaps under the influence) in public, but entirely another to take to the keyboard after you’ve been thrown out of a restaurant, and write a scathing, unintelligible, one-star Yelp ‘review,’ to confirm that you’re an asshole. And if you don’t apologize and delete the offensive review upon reflection, you’re incorrigible.

TS, one of Boston’s best, and well-respected bartenders, shared an incident last week on facebook after consulting with his managers and ownership following a restless night. According to the facebook post, an alleged incident with an unruly guest occurred over the previous weekend at the Cambridge, MA restaurant where TS is bar director and partner, and included the following:

  • It was a Saturday night with a 45-minute wait for guests without reservations.
  • The bar that TS was working was slammed.
  • The amatuer Yelp ‘reviewer’ arrived almost an hour late for his 7:15pm reservation.
  • The restaurant called to confirm that the guest was still coming, they rescheduled, and he was still late.
  • Upon arrival, the GM told him he would seat him as soon as possible, and welcomed him to have a drink at the bar.
  • TS offered to serve him full dinner at the bar, apologized for not being able to seat him immediately, and offered him a round on the house.
  • The guest hurled multiple insults at TS, including, “Are you dumb, are you blind, what the f**k is your problem, you skinny Asian?” called the GM fat, and asked for a “manly, real drink.”
  • The guest repeatedly threatened TS with a bad Yelp review if he didn’t get his way, and eventually was thrown out of the restaurant by the GM for his abusive behavior.
  • The guest was a well known college professor. His picture was included in the facebook post, which has since been deleted.

Here is the gem of a Yelp review that followed:

Screenshot_20171109-143012 (3)

The review remained intact for at least a day, was edited by the reviewer (removing the insults), then was taken down. It isn’t clear if the reviewer removed the review or the Yelp moderators did after it was flagged. I sent a screenshot of the original review to DH, the Business School professor who wrote it, along with the following email:

Hello, DH- I’m doing some research for a blog post. I’d like to talk with you about this Yelp review of CAS restaurant that has since been modified. Specific items I’d like to discuss:

  1. Your responses to bartender’s accusations (I have a list).
  2. Your responses to manager’s comments on Yelp.
  3. Your use of the following in your review:

- “Fat guy”

- “That fat guy doesn’t even have eyes in his fat ass.”

- “…different weight class I guess though fat guy probably never heard of mma tricks etc.”

- “Avoid CAS for safety and sanity.”

- “Anyone else can do better than those bastards.”

4. Any additional comments you would like to add?

I sent the email 3 times, left 3 voicemails at DH’s office, and sent him 3 facebook PM’s for comment with a deadline of Sunday night at midnight. To ensure that he received the emails, I dropped a copy at the School of Business building where his department is located on Sunday indicating that I would hold off on publishing this blog post until noon on Monday, 11/13.

NBC Boston reported on the incident, and in their video quoted a statement from Ken Freeman, Dean of BU Questrom School of Business, “We are aware of an inappropriate Yelp review posted by a member of our faculty. It does not represent our views and values. We are extremely disappointed by this occurrence.” There was no mention of disciplinary action or an apology from professor DH.

I know bartender TS personally, he’s a true gentleman, extremely gracious and hospitable, as well as excellent at his craft. When I spoke with him on Saturday afternoon, he had no interest in seeing DH lose his job. However, the 17+ year industry veteran was adamant about protecting his co-workers and restaurant industry colleagues, and sending a clear, strong message to customers that abuse of service industry workers, or anyone, is not ok. “This isn’t about me. I’ve taken a lot worse abuse over the years. I can take it. I was more upset that my co-worker was being insulted. I think it’s important to stand up and protect our own people and our industry brothers and sisters–to raise awareness and let people know that Yelp threats, and unacceptable, abusive behavior will not be tolerated. I just want it to stop.”

As of our conversation, TS had not been contacted directly by anyone at BU, including professor DH.

I will update here if  anything noteworthy develops.

Please note: I used initials instead of full names to protect the individuals involved from future Google searches. As I’ve stated in a previous blog post (To Shame or Not to Shame?), in most cases, I don’t support public shaming.

From Trader Vic’s book, Food and Drink:

TraderVic


4 Responses to “College Professor (‘Distinguished Faculty Scholar’) Schooled on Manners and Hospitality by Popular Boston Bartender”

  1. Dee says:

    Abuse happens in all service industries, but I’m grateful that the food service industry has your platform. From a marketing POV, I’d like to believe that most people don’t ‘buy’ an obnoxiously negative review. I’d like to believe patrons overlook bad behavior thanks to oversight like yours, and respond accordingly. Final note: what a frigging creep he is.

  2. Jeff Toister says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Patrick. There are two sides to every story, the Yelp review speaks for itself. I appreciate your efforts to include a comment from the professor. His silence also speaks volumes.

    I’m a BU graduate, so this is especially sad for me.

  3. Really well done piece, Patrick. Horrifying story but there seem to be a lot of self-entitled people out there who think they can throw abuse around – not good.

  4. Hi Patrick, Similar to what Jeff said, I’m particularly struck by the fact that when we read a Yelp review, we’re only hearing one side of the story. When we as customers take the time to give an honest review, that’s one thing, but reviews loses it’s value when customers use them to bully restaurants, etc. Thanks for your work on this piece.

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