It’s taken me a long time to settle down and write this blog post so that I wouldn’t sound like a lunatic. I’ve since come to terms with how to address the situation that got me so riled up, and you, my dear friends and blog stalkers, are going to help me deal with a shiddy situation just by reading this.
The first few drafts I pounded on my keyboard were full of anger, highlighted with some pretty choice words that may or may not be illegal in parts of the state.
Yet, after talking it over with other people, including my family, other restaurant owners who are (or were) a party to it, and my own staff at Paizano’s, I decided that there is no reason I shouldn’t just speak the truth and put it out there for everyone to draw their own conclusions on A: Why I’m so pissed, and B: Why we should never, ever, take anonymous “reviews” as fact.
Recently, someone wrote some awful things online about local Baker City restaurants (not mine, this time around). His online persona used the name Pavo, and he had nothing nice to say. He specifically targeted restaurants that are locally-owned in Baker City, even though he claimed to be from Ontario (about an hour away). One of the restaurant owners that he smeared online (someone a lot smarter than I am who has a very successful and popular place here in town), did some investigating and figured out who the person was and sent him a strongly-worded email that contained the following:
The newly created “Pavo” account disappeared soon afterward, taking his venomous words about the restaurants with it.
Afterward, I was told who “Pavo” was (the guy who received the email), but just couldn’t believe it. I mean, it’s a small town. You can’t always believe everything you’re told, for one, and for two, I have collaborated with this Pavo person in the past, helping him to create fliers for his restaurant and co-sponsoring events that he spearheaded at our local ski hill. My brain told me to be careful, to not trust rumors and small town gossip.
So I decided to look into it myself.
Oddly enough, the name “Pavo” had been used back in 2009 on the same review site (with a different combination of numbers after the name), and with the same type of negative words. One of those reviews was of my restaurant, and I recalled reading it back then and feeling upset.
It was my first negative review from someone who wasn’t obviously a competitive restaurant owner, and I was bummed. Whitey told me to ignore it, and to let the customers decide whether or not we’d stay in business. I remember him shutting my laptop, and telling me never to look at it again.
So go figure that the latest mean reviewer shared the name “Pavo”. When I heard the name, my hackles went up.
Let’s take a look at “Pavo’s” former reviews, shall we?
For someone from Ontario, this guy sure gets around Baker City… and Mexico.
Let’s see. The Geiser Grill… what does “Pavo” have to say?
And the Sumpter Junction restaurant?
What about the Oregon Trail Restaurant, Pavo? What did you think about your meal there?
Wow. You’re hard to please. Surely you enjoyed your meal at the renowned Haines Steakhouse… right?
Wait a minute. What’s that? You “own a restaurant”?!?? This is crazy! I wonder what restaurant you own in “Ontario” that has such high standards.
Let’s take a look at your five-star ratings, shall we?
That’s odd. One of them is for a truck stop, here in Baker nonetheless.
WOW! Four times during your vacation, you ate at a truck stop? It must have been a truly magnificent experience!
But, this is so strange. You were “visiting” Baker City for 3 days and yet these are the only reviews you have ever written — none are for your “hometown” of Ontario?
Wait… there’s one other 5-star review on your resume, for a restaurant in Mazatlan, Mexico called “Pancho’s”.
My own sarcasm is so thick, I’m suffocating.
The owner of our local truck stop restaurant has photos all over his Facebook page of him vacationing in Mazatlan, Mexico at his vacation home that he’s had for many years.
There are even photos of him and his friends and family dining at, and WITH Pancho, at “Pancho’s” restaurant.
That a local business owner would slam another business in such a shady manner has me seething. At least use your real name if you’re going to write such things. Stand by your words.
I’m not stupid. I’ve seen reviews that other places write for themselves under monikers that are similar to their own names or their spouses names, or they use the same icon that is used on their Facebook or blog profiles.
They write about how amazing they are, how great their own food and service are, and I laugh it off. As long as they steer clear of slander and smearing their competitors, it’s no big deal. Maybe if they spent more time making their product better and training their staff to have great customer service, they wouldn’t need to boost their own online egos.
But I digress.
I tried to respond to “Pavo’s” review on TripAdvisor, but they didn’t like what I had to say and I was instructed to re-write it in a more positive tone.
So I figured, it’s my blog, I can say whatever I want right.here.without.censure.
Can you imagine if there were a KidAdvisor.com ? We could write about what a horrible child you have, how misbehaved and loud and obnoxious and dirty he is, all under the safety of anonymity because we can hide behind our keyboard. You’d have no recourse. You’d be mortified and angry, wanting to find out who wrote it so that you could retaliate and talk smack about their own child!
Here’s the thing: owning a restaurant is a whole hell of a lot like having a kid. We don’t go to work everyday hoping that it grows up by itself. We have to put effort into it, tons of love and tears, nurturing and growing with it, with the goal that one day we can work a little less, sit back a little more, and be proud of what we’ve raised.
A job well done.
This guy bad mouthed my kid. My baby. He also bad mouthed a lot of other kids in town and these parents are angry. It certainly didn’t make his own kid look any better. In fact, I’ll go on record to say that my kid is a heck of a lot smarter than his kid. Better looking, too.
I’ll tell you what — when we were opening our restaurant over five years ago, I felt the hate. I couldn’t understand why, of course, because I had only ever helped other business owners. When I went to local banks with my business plan, I was shown the door. When I finally got funding, and asked for bids from contractors, I had people ignore my phone calls and finally, grossly over-estimate their contracts.It took awhile to find someone to take me seriously.
Not everyone was so self-consumed, of course. The owner of our local brewpub helped us install our keg cooler, and showed us how to keep it maintained. He shared the contact info of trustworthy vendors, helped us with our floor plan, and also offered lots of encouragement when I would admit to crying myself to sleep. He knew. He’d been there.
When a new business opens here in Baker, I want them to succeed. Really and truly. It only helps my restaurant in the long run by encouraging people to relocate, or get in a more consistent habit of eating out. If a restaurant nearby fails, it lessens my traffic flow. It hurts my business.
Think about it: If you have a restaurant on a busy Main street in a downtown area next to dozens of other restaurants, will you be more successful if they all disappeared? No.
Success breeds success.
And bad-mouthing your neighbors only makes you look worse, and ultimately, turn off your own customers.
By writing this, I feel a little better. I also have taught myself a lot about online investigating, and I’ve learned a little Spanish as well.
Did you know that “Pavo” means “Turkey” in Spanish? Neither did I! I would have thought it would mean “Chicken” or “Jackass”.
And Pavo was correct about one thing: our salads are great. In fact, if you love our signature “Kina’s Favorite” salad on our menu (the one with the candied walnuts, dried cranberries, tomatoes and gorgonzola), you can also get it at our local truck stop! It’s featured on their latest menu as the “Corral’s Favorite”. Weird, right?
Oh my. There’s the sarcasm again. I’d better quit while I’m ahead.
updated June 07, 2012
Wow. What a response. Instead of sweeping the dirt under the rug, I swept it outside and everyone saw how dirty this really is.
I did have one person email me and say that I should “get over it”. That what Pavo wrote was over 3 years ago, and to “let it go”.
Except that it wasn’t just the things that were written in 2009. He also wrote reviews as recently as a few weeks ago, only, he deleted them after being confronted by someone about it.
Prove it, Kina.
It took a few emails and calling in a huge favor, but here are a few more lovely reviews by the ever-so-eloquent Pavo:
His profile, as of this evening:
And here is his profile as of April 27, 2012:
And here are his reviews from April and May of this year:
The Inland Cafe:
The new Corner Brick Bar & Grill:
Porchibees, now known as Crave-A-Bowl (and they have AWESOME food and some of the friendliest people working there):
Barley Brown’s Brew Pub:
I just love the “to be fair” comment. TO BE FAIR!?!?? Really?
Another rip on the Sumpter Junction:
Remember, this is a restaurant directly across the street from his place.
And then of course, a stellar review of the truck stop:
and of course, a photo to go along with it:
The other reviews, all very positive, were for another restaurant in Mazatlan near his vacation home, and the Baker Heritage Museum and the Interpretive Center.
If you take away one thing after reading all of this, I hope it’s that you’ll never, ever believe something that you read online. Fair, honest, true reviews are written by people who do it for a living — they’re PAID to be critics, to travel and eat and blog and publish their opinions. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising, but only if you know whose mouth it’s coming out of. Anonymous reviews are rubbish.
People hiding behind a pseudonym do so because they have something to hide.
Jealousy? Anger? Resentment? Maybe an ex-employee or a former lover are behind that nasty review you just read. Think about that before believing the hate, and also before believing the love spewed in an online review.
Pavo is entitled to his opinion, but at the expense of his neighbors success? I don’t think so.
I also don’t think he’ll be welcome back at many of the restaurants he’s written about, so I hope that he truly does love his self-proclaimed 5-star restaurant. He’ll be his own best customer.