Neither ‘Friends’ nor ‘Family’

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Customer Hall of Shame

Posted: 08/7/2013

I was very fortunate to be invited to “Friends & Family” night at Ribelle, a new restaurant in Brookline, MA, last night. Anyone who is lucky enough to have been included in one of these evenings, knows that they’re a real treat. They can be rough, raw, and akin to watching actors rehearse for a big show. Mistakes are made, and you’re in on the action. You really appreciate showtime when you’ve been behind the curtain.

However, there are some responsibilities that go along with the sneak peek; You ask permission about what’s ok to post on social media, and you don’t post a critical ‘review’ of a restaurant that is a work in progress — especially after eating and drinking for free!!!

A few attendees from last night’s dinner broke the ‘rules’. One of them posted an anonymous ‘review’ of Ribelle in the comments section on EaterBoston;

Tried ribelle tonight and was not impressed. Loud, weird paper over windows. Not a larger enough menu selection for vegetarian or kosher diners. I won’t be going back.

The “weird paper” the anonymous ‘friend’ or ‘family’ member is referring to, was brown paper taped over the windows because the restaurant was closed to the public!!

Seriously, where do these people come from??????

Here is my response on EaterBoston:

That anonymous comment, including, “weird paper over the windows,” is one of the most ridiculous fucking things I’ve seen in a long time. File under, “You can’t make this shit up.” People like this moron are the reason I started my blog/book project.

Dear Moron– You attended a FREE “Friends & Family” night at one of the most highly-anticipated, Boston-area restaurant openings in recent memory. It is an honor to be included on the guest list of a FREE Friends & Family night. TRUSTED guests (and their guests) are expected to come in with an open mind, a keen sense of their surroundings, and an awareness that these nights are a dry run for The real McCoy, when the restaurant opens its doors to the (critical) public.

In exchange for attending the FREE dinner, guests are expected to give candid, constructive, confidential feedback via email, or a comment card that is furnished by the restaurant. (Yes, Ribelle provided them.) Armed with that info, the restaurant team continues to brainstorm, tweak, train, and “work out all the kinks,” before going “live”.

Your comments about the menu choices are comical, and make it crystal clear that you are clueless about what ribelle is doing. Do you own a computer or ‘smart’ phone? Are you really that dumb?

I was at the dinner last night, and loved the limited # of choices. There are several items (including the octopus) that I want to go back and try. I also loved the food, drinks, hospitality and the room, despite the fact that the chairs were rented and the room is still being decorated. (Still building, working, tweaking, get it, Dummy??)

I hope my comments help, in case you are ever invited to another FREE Friends & Family dinner (as a +1, or an actual “friend”). Oh, and one more thing; Over-tipping is part of the social contract when attending these dinners where your friends invite you into their house to eat and drink, all night, for FREE.

PS- Full disclosure: I was invited to the dinner last night because I am friends with the Ribelle family………..

PPS- If you are a blood “Family” member of anyone at Ribelle, I’m sure they’ll be thrilled at your vow not to return to the restaurant, or to ANY family functions for that matter. End of rant to anonymous moron.

Sincerely-Patrick Maguire

8 Responses to “Neither ‘Friends’ nor ‘Family’”

  1. shadow eagle says:

    Right on!!!!!

  2. Joe Ricchio says:

    Honestly, I don’t care if it’s your 10th year in business, nobody gives a fuck about a diner who won’t be back because of a shortage of kosher or vegetarian options. Maybe they could eat the paper covering the windows?

  3. Roy says:

    Your response was perfect. I usually bristle at directly calling out (paying) guests, but in some rare cases (and this one is a perfect example of one of these cases) I think that it is completely necessary to do so with the acerbic candor exhibited in your response. Well done. Hopefully this piece gets picked up by a newspaper or blog just as some others on your page have been in the past. Shitting on someone’s business when they are new and going through the pains of opening is uncalled for. Doing this while being fed for free before they are even open as part of a test audience is the mark of a true douchebag that deserves to be publicly shamed.

  4. Frederick says:

    Good response. I’m tempted to say that these ‘friends and family’ or soft opening events should be limited to industry people only. Even though that would eliminate me from consideration. I love soft openings for precisely the reasons you mention. But obviously some hyper-coddled millennials out there don’t really have a clue about how this all works.

  5. Big Louie says:

    Posting anything on social media or Yelp after a “friends and family” night is an ego-tripping “wanna be there first” douchey kinda move in itself. The absurd nature of this obvious troll leads me to believe that perhaps the reviewer wasn’t inside at all… he/she was outside, looking at the “funny paper” in the windows while the guests entered and exited. And ’cause they felt left out, they decided to become the champion of vegetarian and kosher-friendly dining…

  6. Kim M says:

    Wow! Anyone who has been lucky enough to be invited to a friends & family event, knows the drill. You are invited because you are helping them to work out the kinks. You’re invited to provide constructive comments…and your invited because you are a friend and/or family member. This person is neither — just a complete boar.

    If Ribelle is lucky, they WILL never show up again as promised!

  7. audree says:

    This is why I stalk, er, follow you, your blog, and your witty, wry and insightful dialog!! Keep it up. You are the voice for an entire industry!!

  8. p.mac says:

    Dear Gawd!! No free Kosher meals? you gotta be kidding me!
    Vegetarian menu options are the norm now, as are gluten free options. Kosher Meals? Gimme a break!
    Kosher meals should be enjoyed in Kosher restaurants! Those of us in the restaurant industry understand these specifications all too well. The handling and preperation are quite specific…we know this, but it doesn’t gell with 98% of the population. I would never order a grilled cheese sadwich for lunch in the North End,because it is NOT on the menu.. But I know where to get a great one somewhere else, and I know that.

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