In the biggest breakthrough for mankind since the moon landing, restaurants showed the world this week how to use social media for something other than viewing pet videos. It proved an effective tool not only for recovering lost business, but also for teaching guests some manners.
But not all was sane in the industry. A lover jilted by her date sued the restaurant where he didn’t show, and lawmakers suggested carrots in lieu of new minimum wages. And then there’s Starbucks’ latest froth on American life.
See for yourself, neck brace in hand, via this edition of Head-spinning moments.
1. A restaurant threatened with a bad review gets its own yelp
Two haughty guests who threatened to blast a restaurant online found themselves catching negative attention after treating the staff of Alden & Harlow in Boston like shoe lickers. Now they’ve been exiled from a number of the city’s restaurants.
The pair adjudged themselves so superior that they berated and insulted the A&H staff, prompting proprietor Michael Scelfo to take away their drinks and ask them to leave, reported Boston.eater.com. The two refused, stepped up their mistreatment, and warned that they were about to destroy the place on Yelp.
Instead of calling authorities, Scelfo silenced the self-anointed deities by fawning over them. Without a fight to wage, the duo grabbed their crowns and scepters and bolted. But not before Scelfo took their picture and posted it on Instagram. He later pulled it down, but word had spread. Now the couple is as unwelcome in Red Sox Nation as two Yankee fans.
2. Try ‘liking’ this on Facebook, deadbeats
Justice was also meted out with LOLs and OMGs this week in Australia, where an out-of-town couple figured they’d skip out on their $180 bill for a meal at Mojo’s Restaurant. It was the ole chew-and-screw scam, attempted this time by visitors from France who figured there was no chance of getting caught. Who was going to track them hallway across the globe?
They discounted the social mediasphere. Mojo’s found the couple pictured on its security camera and posted the frame on Facebook with an account of the crime. Unfortunately for the couple, it was spotted by the Australian farmer who’d hired them to work in exchange for their lodging. He fired them and gave them the boot.
Embarrassed, the two skulked back to Mojo’s and settled up.
3. Cup of good publicity
That wasn’t the only theft-worthy restaurant idea to wash ashore from overseas this week. KFC made a splash on both sides of the Atlantic with the unveiling in the U.K. of a cup that customers can eat after consuming the contents. No longer will all those red and white cups be clogging landfills. Now, with their linings of white chocolate, the containers would be filling stomachs and delighting customers.
A halo was securely placed above the Colonel’s head, but, as TheStreet.com pointed out, the move was more of a publicity ploy than the test of a serious sustainability move. It noted that the cup might not stand up to the usual rigors of a fast-food cup, like being filled with hot coffee or getting dropped into a car’s cup holder.
4. Ad-for-wages quid pro quo
Still being digested is the idea put forth by politicians in two major eastern cities: If mandating an increase in the minimum wage is such a controversial action, why not merely ask businesses to pay more?
At least Pittsburgh Councilman Corey O’Connor provided a reason for employers to voluntarily increase their payroll costs. Places that opted to pay at least $10.10 an hour would get a free ad on one of city’s 200 bus shelters. The space is already provided free to Pittsburgh, so the placement wouldn’t cost anything.
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio argued that restaurants and other businesses should voluntarily pay at least $13 for the sole reason that it’s good for the city.
Even he doesn't have much faith in the idea; he’s lobbying New York State lawmakers to mandate a $13 wage for Gotham.
5. Spurned twice, she’s suing once
A woman who said she was treated badly by a restaurant because she showed up solo on Valentine’s Day is suing the Portland, Ore., place for $100,000.
The complainant, identified in local media reports as businesswoman Kathleen Hampton, said her husband decided he’d stay home that night and let his wife take the table she’d reserved for the two of them at Enzo’s.
The restaurant, looking at the prospect of an empty seat on one of the industry’s busiest nights, said it could not scale down the reservation and asked the woman to leave.
Hampton countered with a request for something to go. The restaurant balked, but said afterward that it had offered the woman a seat at the bar, where she could eat.
Hampton sued this week. She not only wants $100,000, but also an apology.
6. Consumers aren’t the only things that Starbucks can perk up
A unit of the chain can have the same effect on home values as good local schools or ample park space, two executives of the website Zillow revealed this week. The site compiles the purchase prices of houses so buyers and sellers of properties in an area can gauge local real estate values. Houses near a Starbucks rose in value by an average of 96 percent between 1997 and 2013, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff revealed in a new book he co-authored with chief economist Stan Humphries.
It wasn’t clear if a Starbucks was the cause, or if land values rose for the same reason the café was there: Favorable demographics and income trends.