City restaurants hit back at 'dangerous' TripAdvisor reviews
TOOWOOMBA restaurateurs are hitting back at the world's largest travel review site, saying some reviews can be dangerous to small business.
Well-known chef Kyle Zevenbergen said a recent negative review on TripAdvisor caused his restaurant Zev's Bistro to go from a rating of six out of 227 Toowoomba restaurants to 24.
"I'm happy to take a good and bad review if warranted. My problem is the anonymity provided to customers to give feedback, be it harmful or untrue," he said.
"It can become a tool to use maliciously or professional sabotage.
"I'm personally having dramas with it and know a handful of other restaurants would have a bit to say about it."
The restaurant with a chic industrial fit-out opened on Ruthven St in July last year.
After only six months in business, it became the proud owner of an Australian Good Food Guide Chef's Hat award.
While the bistro's reviews are overwhelmingly positive, Mr Zevenbergen has received purposely negative anonymous reviews he believed to be unwarranted.
"It's not affecting business. I feel it's more important to address this from a personal standpoint - how it makes restaurateurs and employees feel," he said.
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"It's upsetting to me. My name is on the door. It's dangerous as there is more limelight on the city's dining scene and people are looking at TripAdvisor for a place to dine."
Long-standing fine dining establishment Encores Restaurant had a similar experience.
A recent review from "Well_seasoned1989" gave the restaurant two out of five stars.
"The food is truly below average for a restaurant in such a beautiful setting, an opulent space, serving mediocre function-style food," it read.
"Boring run of the mill menu, poorly executed, under seasoned."
Co-owner Meredith Rawlings said the user negatively reviewed several city restaurants in two days, bringing down individual restaurants' TripAdvisor ratings.
"We're always of the belief that if you have a problem when dining, tell us about it and we'll fix it rather than say 'everything is fine' and then putting up a lousy review," she said.
"I don't know if it's due to cooking shows that they think they're more educated about what they're eating and what they should expect.
These shows give them an inflated view of what they're talking about it (and) the danger is everyone becomes an expert on a very public platform."
Mrs Rawlings said users could take steps to ensure they were not reading reviews by internet trolls.
"I think as far as TripAdvisor goes, look at majority reviews and then make your decision rather than basing it on one or two reviews," she said.
"If you're looking at a restaurant, even look at the reviewer. That will base your judgment and inform yourself more.
"This particular reviewer had a field day in Toowoomba."