How Not To React To Internet Criticism: The Epic Facebook Meltdown Of Amy’s Baking Company

amy_knivesIt appears that the owners of Amy’s Baking Company in Arizona expected an appearance on celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares” program to vindicate them. They believed that they serve quality food, that they have been unfairly slandered by the entire Internet. Maybe they had never seen the reality program, which features last-ditch efforts to save failing restaurants run by people who are delusional or incompetent…and frequently both.

Normally, no one would care about a little cafe/pizzeria/bakery in Arizona. Amy’s showed up on the map in 2010 after a paranoid, unhinged rant aimed at a man who posted a one-star review about an undercooked pizza. The owner accused the reviewer of not knowing what fresh dough and tomatoes should taste like, of working for a competing restaurant, and of being ugly. “Do US a favor and keep your ugly face and you ugly opinions to yourself and go back to the restaurant that you really work at!!” she wrote.

More than two years later, the owners signed on to Ramsay’s show. It’s not clear why: perhaps they believed that Ramsay would taste their amazing food, vindicate the business, and stand outside the door swearing at everyone with a Yelp account in order to make them go away. Instead, Ramsay walked away from a restaurant makeover for the first time in more than a hundred episodes on two continents.

Normally, the program follows a strict formula: a stubborn owner or chef believes that they have the best food in the country and can’t understand why customers stay away. Often, in the United States version of the program, there are terrible family or staff conflicts. Planted customers send their crappy food back in dismay. Everyone except the front-line staff butts heads with Ramsay until a crucial peak to the conflict that usually involves some kind of ancient slimy meat in the freezer. The menu is made over, a different batch of planted customers show up and like the food, and hearts are warmed.

The Amy’s Baking Company episode ended at the very peak of the conflict…as the owners refused to take any criticism from Ramsay. If he wasn’t going to make the mean Yelpers go away, what could he do for them? Nothing.

But this isn’t a TV recap. We frequently focus on business owners who show everyone how not to react to bad online reviews, and Amy’s Baking Company is providing a master class in that as we speak…on Facebook.

A Reddit thread linked to the restaurant’s page, providing a steady influx of trolls. A more savvy business would shut down their Facebook page. This is not that business.

Update: The meltdown occurred on Monday night. On Tuesday afternoon, the restaurant took down the more less reality-based updates and added a note that their web site and social media accounts had obviously been hacked. Obviously.

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Here are some of the original Facebook statuses that had most of the Internet giggling hysterically today.

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Just you watch, Internet blogger nerds! This restaurant is going to sic the SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA POLICE DEPARTMENT ON YOU!

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The font on that last comment seems pretty legit.

Update: Katy, the waitress fired on camera during the program, showed up on Reddit to answer questions.

Ouch! Today’s Hard Lesson on Yelp [Phoenix New Times]

The Folks at Amy’s Baking Company In Scottsdale Have Gone Insane [Tucson Weekly]

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