I posted the following review of the Apollo Restaurant in Boston a few hours ago on Yelp, a peer-review website enabling anyone to post candid reviews of any storefront or office, though mainly restaurants and bars. Not just good vs bad, but why? While Zagat and similar guides provide objectivity, they lack emotion.
Despite dozens of good reviews on Apollo, a Korean-Japanese joint in Boston’s Chinatown, my experience was horrific:
Can’t I give zero stars?
I don’t know where to begin.
I ate here with some friends last night and it was among the worst restaurant experience of our collective 120+ years!
We arrived at Apollo around 2:30 a.m. after other Chinatown places were mobbed. We were hungry and were happy the place sat us after 10 minutes.
The waiter came over. We wanted spicy shrimp, so asked for something like Kung Pao shrimp. The waiter got IN OUR FACE that Apollo served Korean, not Chinese. Yeah, we knew that, but did they have any spicy shrimp dishes? They had soups with shrimp and spicy sauce but couldn’t do a non-soup dish? Whatever.
We ordered scallion pancakes, steamed dumplings, crab rangoon, and seafood teriyaki.
That’s when it got annoying. See, we were hungry. We had been drinking and needed food. The food arrived…dig this..MORE THAN 45 MINUTES LATER! Other parties came in, ate, and left; and we had nothing! What the?
You don’t want to know how many times we asked for our food from the waiter and the manager. The waiter said something about a computer problem but fact is he forgot our order, or didn’t type it in, or who knows. We should have left but were hungry and everything else had lines.
By the time the food came, the scallion pancakes were not crispy. They looked like soft pancakes with onion. Eww. The dumplings and crab rangoon were fine.
And our seafood teriyaki? The waiter forgot to re-ring it, finally brought the dish…but he MISTOOK SEAFOOD FOR BEEF. I ordered the dish by number, saying A14. He heard A13. Back and forth, took the beef back and the kitchen started making the seafood teriyaki… and another 20 minutes go by.
About TWO HOURS AFTER entering the place, and telling the kitchen to stop the teriyaki dish, we want to leave. We can’t. We have a bill for $32. That was after taking the teriyaki dish off the bill. Why should we pay for food that arrived OVER AN HOUR LATE due to waiter forgetfulness and then bringing out the wrong teriyaki dish? Back and forth with the manager, yelling match ensues, we refuse to pay the bill but they won’t let us out without paying.
Did I mention the large-framed bouncer at the door? What restaurants have bouncers? For the drunks, obviously. We couldn’t leave… so I finally bit the bullet and paid the bill that any reputable restaurant manager would have immediately comped.
Pathetic. Disappointing. Worthy of zero stars!
I’ll hazard a guess the management and ownership isn’t watching Yelp. I love surprises.
Photo credit: Atrebor B on Flickr
Restaurant managers: Are you listening?
Using Apollo as a case study, here are 77 reviews on Yelp with an average 3-star rating (out of five; and given some reviews, like mine, are required to give one star at a minimum).
Over at CitySearch Boston, I note 8 reviews–and the first two listed also mention horrible customer service experiences. Do we sense a pattern yet?
This isn’t new
Chowhound–a site like Yelp that enables people to ask and answer questions through different forums–shows some comments about Apollo from 2005.
Every minute a restaurant waits to listen–and respond–someone else writes a review. I wrote a bad review of Apollo, but I could just as easily written something praising them. But if Apollo isn’t watching, who really cares what’s written, eh? I’ll tell you: We care. We use search engines to find information; and review sites, like blogs, are preferred by engines for their changing content.
If I haven’t sold you yet, think about peer reviews on Yelp, Urban Spoon, TripAdvisor, Craigslist, and other sites from the perspective a restaurant opened yesterday and people showed up all day and night. Whether excellent or disgusting food, someone–maybe many people–will write a review. People will read that review, beginning with the poster’s friends. Business may suffer as a result.
Do you want your restaurant to suffer? Do you want it to get rave reviews? Without knowing about peer review websites and reading–and replying–to the reviewers, you might as well refuse to provide good customer service when you admit you failed to deliver food on time. Oh, wait. Am I talking about Apollo again?