The Alinea Group’s Nick Kokonas showed patience and remarkable self restraint when he thoroughly refuted a Chicago banker’s misguided and angry Yelp review about his forgotten reservation at Next, the Alinea Group’s pricey Fulton Market concept-shifting restaurant. Mark Brady works as global head of M&As at William Blair and Co. Brady, and in a since-deleted Yelp review, he called Next staff “assbags” for allegedly not sending Brady a reminder of that reservation. He complained he should have received a refund.
Brady, identified by the Observer, also complained that Next kept his money for the meal’s wine pairing. “No confirm call or email, the objective is to take your $1,200 and not have to serve you anything,” Brady’s now-deleted Yelp post read.
Two reminders are automatically emailed to customers with reservations via Tock, the reservation portal Kokonas developed to reduce no-shows, Kokonas said. He wrote that he personally checked that the reminders were sent. He started Tock to eliminate situations just like Brady’s; customers pay for their meals in advance.
Kokonas shared the situation via Facebook. He’d like more restaurants to follow his lead. The situation would have been different if Brady had informed the restaurant that he couldn’t make his reservation, as Next could have offered the table to those on its waitlist instead of holding Brady’s table the entire night. Kokonas shared a message he wrote to Brady, a well-reasoned explanation free of snark in which he called Brady’s Yelp post “not accurate.” Kokonas didn’t mention Brady by name in any of his post.
As a banker and MBA I know you understand the business and economic principles involved. Those ideas apply the same to a restaurant as any other business. By your own admission you “whiffed.” If it had been our fault I assure you we would have made it right. As it is not, I fail to understand why a refund should be forthcoming.
Brady has since deleted the review in question. Meanwhile, tickets for the next Next iteration, Ancient Rome, are now on sale. If you buy some and can’t attend, make sure to let the restaurant know rather than not showing up and falsely claiming on Yelp afterward that the restaurant didn’t send you any reminders.
UPDATE: Kokonas emailed with a bit more of why he made a public post:
The guest, in my opinion, wanted to use his review on Yelp and promise of future business as a leverage point to get a partial refund or rebooking. Interestingly, he booked the reservation only eight days before he was scheduled to dine and did so at 9:59 a.m. I suspect he just forgot, but when his credit card bill came he tried to get a refund. Had he not been insulting and rude I would have never posted my emails to him online. Given his user history on Yelp and posts on Twitter I felt compelled to give a public reply—though redacted—so that the public and our industry knew why a review like that happened. We are incredibly accommodating of our guests given the opportunity to do so. But no-shows with no notification hurt everyone in terms of higher prices and worse hospitality due to overbooking.