NJ restaurant chain fires managers for asking workers to beg for reviews
UPDATE: A restaurant group that found itself at the center of an angry Reddit-fueled storm says it has fired two managers over a policy that required workers to solicit positive online reviews.
Andrea Bonfiglio, whose family owns the Tio Taco + Tequila Bar in Edison, said they found out about the policy after she was bombarded with online review notifications by angry people from all over the world.
"We had no idea it was even up," Bonfiglio told New Jersey 101.5, calling the manager's request of the employees "insane" and "disgusting." The manager and assistant general manager were both terminated after acknowledging their role in posting the request on the bulletin board, she said.
"I don’t know whoever would endorse a policy like that," she added.
Most people who saw the post on Reddit agreed that the policy was inappropriate.
"While it appeared to be a company-wide initiative based on the social media post, I think we can all agree it’s good to know that Triple T not only is equally as mortified but swiftly took action," he said after Bonfiglio reached out to New Jersey 101.5 on Monday.
Bonfiglio said the worker who posted on Reddit could have reported the concern to the ownership group.
She said Google stepped in to protect their business ratings from an "international cyber mob with no idea about the actual brand" leaving fake reviews and sending vulgar, threatening messages. The fake reviewers even attacked employees who tried to leave a good word for their employer, she said.
The company opened its Edison restaurant last year in the middle of the pandemic and employs about 1,100 workers across its properties.
Read Joe V's initial reaction
Making the rounds on Reddit over the weekend was this photo of a bulletin, which shows what was a manager's short-lived Google review policy at Tio Taco + Tequila Bar.
The policy read:
Every service employee for FOH (front of house) is required to get a minimum of 5 Google reviews per month to remain employed at the Edison location starting February, 2022. The review must include your first name and five stars in order to count. We will have monthly Google review contests for each month to promote health(y) competition. You must have a minimum of 15 reviews to qualify for the prizes. 1st place gets first pick out of five potential prizes, and 2nd place gets to choose the leftover prizes.
Servers are already getting paid pennies on the dollar and must rely on tips from generous customers to make a living. The manager who posted this wanted wait staff to not only beg for a review but insist that it include their first name and leave a five-star review.
It's maddening to know people imposing awful practices like this and are ignorant to the struggles of their employees can hold positions of power, especially when you factor in the time that we're living in.
Many people working in the hospitality business work paycheck-to-paycheck, depending on their weekly earnings for basic needs. If you're going to turn your employees into review whores, then maybe consider paying them more.
One look at the prizes up for grabs shows you just how much management valued its workers. Among the options are two free meals from the place in which they work, as well as some merchandise that represents the place in which they work. If a server earns 15 Google reviews (which undoubtedly benefits the restaurant more than the worker) in a month, they may get a ... day off?
That's not enough.
An embarrassment no matter which way you slice it.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 producer, writer, and host Joe Votruba. Any opinions expressed are his own.