Tim Allen says Flitch of Bacon received fictitious reviews on TripAdvisor when it was closed

The  Staff Canteen

Chef owner of The Flitch of Bacon has criticised online reservation platform TripAdvisor, calling in question the authenticity of comments left by people claiming to have a reservation at the restaurant even though it was closed and without an online booking system.

Speaking to chef Paul Foster and Simon Alexander in the penultimate episode of the The Nightcap podcast’s first series, Tim said it was heartbreaking to have to close his restaurant for several months because of repeated electrical faults. He called it “one of the toughest decisions” he’s ever made.

“It’s massively demoralising.  I’ve taken on a business that was in need of building. We’ve built it, we’ve put all the work in, got it to a point last October, we were very fortunate that we were awarded a star in the Michelin Guide and that propelled the business even further; we had over demand for the teams we had,” he said.

 “Getting to that point was probably one of the hardest years I’ve ever done in a restaurant and I’ve worked in some pretty hard places. To get to that point and then close was pretty gutting.”

Receiving bad TripAdvisor reviews in the wake of this added insult to injury for the chef; depriving him of the rewards of having worked to ensure his business was successful, only to receive bad reviews for making minor mistakes.

“I’ll say it quite clearly. It’s not all rosy, we all fuck up. We all make mistakes, we’re human beings. We’re not machines, we’re not robots. This is the bit everyone doesn’t realise, you go and work a fucking night out where you can do everything perfectly because I’ll tell you something – that takes some doing.”

“I don’t want my team to work like that. I want my team to have a balanced life. When you get these criticisms, sometimes, you are wrong, and you go ‘yep, we didn’t get that right, we cocked up.’”

More hurtful still are those reviews from customers who’ve had their reservations cancelled because the restaurant was closed, as he went to every effort to make sure to contact them all directly to apologise.

“This is the situation I’m in, it’s been in the national press for God’s sake, it’s not like there’s no awareness – if my restaurant had burnt down or flooded, the result would be the same situation I’m in now with no power; there’s no difference,” he said.

“I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to let my customers down. I’ve spent three decades working my ass off and this is what I get out of bed for, to make people happy in their happy time. That’s what I do.”

But worst of all, the chef said he can prove that some reviews are outright fictitious:

“They’ve not been to my restaurant. I know the reviews are absolute bollocks.”

“I haven’t had a reservation system. There’s no way they had a booking for tonight because the bookings I’ve had, we’ve spoken to personally.” 

Despite it all the chef conceded that while flawed, TripAdvisor has a level of overall credibility.

“Its quantitative trend is right. You’ve kind of got to take the rest and swallow it.”

Chefs, have you received fake or unfair TripAdvisor reviews? Share your experiences in the comments!

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 18th June 2019

Tim Allen says Flitch of Bacon received fictitious reviews on TripAdvisor when it was closed