Chef Who Threatened Yelper Over Negative Review Issues Public Apology

One of the messages sent via Facebook from the chef to a customer who left a one-star review on Yelp. That review has since been deleted by Yelp, even though the chef stated that he no longer had a problem with it.

One of the messages sent via Facebook from the chef to a customer who left a one-star review on Yelp. That review has since been deleted by Yelp, even though the chef stated that he no longer had a problem with it.

We recently brought you the story of a restaurant customer in Cleveland whose one-star Yelp review of a new eatery led to the chef/owner sending the customer angry, threatening messages via Facebook. The Yelper subsequently told us that he’d received a private apology from the chef, but that the restaurant continued to mock him through its social media outlets. After weeks of not directly addressing this story in a public forum, the chef posted an apology late last week.

“The fact is, I said some really stupid things,” admits the chef in a lengthy note posted on the restaurant’s site. “I’m genuinely sorry for saying those things. I wish I could take them back, but I can’t. However, I’m here to apologize, and to try to make it right and learn from it.”

He admits that he did “act crazy, irrational, and said some horrible things,” in response to the negative review, but takes issue with those who labeled him a racist for comments in the initial messages to the customer like how he was dining with an “ugly Indian bitch behind your ugly Asian bitch’s back.”

“I am not a racist,” writes the chef. “I work with and employ people from all different ethnic backgrounds… I thank everyone who has reached out to me regarding the issue of me being racist, as people who know me personally know that this is not the case.”

On Friday evening, the Facebook page for the group boycotting the restaurant posted its response to the apology.

“We accept your response and we will no longer ask people to join, share, or continue the boycott,” begins the note, which then goes on to point out that there are still some concerns about the chef’s statement.

For example, in his apology, the chef mentioned that one of his business partners — who has released a statement of her own — is Indian-American, but the boycott group says that just because one may not be considered a racist by those that know him doesn’t change the fact that he made racially and sexually charged comments that crossed the line.

The things written by the chef in those first messages “will never change and always be offensive,” says the group. “Reference to a woman of South Asian descent as ‘Punjabi puss’ is a racist and sexist comment. Reference to a woman as a ‘bitch,’ ‘an ugly piece of shit,’ or an ‘ugly Asian bitch’ is sexist.”

UPDATE: A rep from Yelp tells Consumerist that Ruchu’s original review was not deleted, and that his subsequent update, in which he provides some details of the messages sent by the chef, should not have been removed. Both the review and the update are now available on Yelp and the diner is no longer blocked from posting reviews to the eatery’s Yelp page.

Here is the full statement from Yelp:

Yelp aims to highlight useful, relevant content to help people find great local businesses based on first-hand consumer experiences, not political ideologies, media reports or hearsay.

Yelp has a user operations team in place to ensure the quality of content on the site and routinely reviews cases where businesses profiles have been raised by media reports. Reviews that are found to be in violation of Yelp’s Terms of Service or Content Guidelines, including those that are not based on a first-hand experience, will be removed from the site.

Ruchu T.’s original review has remained visible to people visiting Ninja City Kitchen’s Yelp page since it was posted on 9/8/2014. Yelp’s user operations team has been continually monitoring the page for reviews that violate Yelp’s Terms of Service, and as there are still a large volume of those being posted, Ruchu’s updated review was mistakenly flagged for removal. We reinstated Ruchu T’s updated review as soon as we realized the error, and have notified him of the update. We apologize for any confusion.

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