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Choose Your Tweets Wisely – Houston Tweeter Kicked Out of Restaurant

August 17th, 2011 · 7 Comments

Seems a popular tweeter in Houston was kicked out of a restaurant after tweeting a negative comment about the bartender and his service.

You can read about the ordeal of Allison Matsu and the DownHouse on the Houston Press blog, but the synopsis is this: Matsu was drinking at the bar and tweeted that the bartender was a twerp (the tweet has since been deleted) and included a derogatory hashtag. The restaurant manager saw the post, and from outside the restaurant, called the bartender, who gave the phone to Matsu. The manager and tweeter exchanged words, then Matsu was asked to leave. She did, allegedly, in tears.

Tweet positive, welcome; Tweet negative, get bounced

Comments are interesting on this one – some defending the restaurant and its right to serve or eject any patron; others defending the tweeter’s right to tweet in a restaurant that had previously encouraged the practice. Another group feel phones should be banished from the planet altogether and especially in restaurants.

But for those who allow or encourage it: You can tweet – as long as it’s positive? Since it’s protected by free speech, there’s no argument about her right to an opinion, tweeted, spoken, or otherwise.

Restaurants garner PR through Tweets and Foursquare and a bunch of other instant-gratification social media sites. Many hire groups to tweet from their restaurants to create the buzz desired; this is especially true among the 18-30 age group – demographics that certain restaurants and bars covet.

Social media is a two-edged sword — and negative tweets should be expected along with the shout-outs.

In this case: Both win – Matsu with all the PR and sympathy she’s garnered and the followers she’s gained, and the restaurant, which finds its name on national blogs today, where before, it was only one of a zillion Houston, Texas, restaurants.

Tags: Talking Tables

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ken Steinhoff // Aug 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Live by the Tweet; die by the Tweet.

    I have no issues with someone tweeting a positive or negative review (although I’ll never see either).

    I give the manager credit for following up on the complaint and, without knowing how the conversation went, he could have been justified in uninviting her to eat in his establishment.

    If she had a valid issue that should be addressed, fine; it she was taking a cheap shot without trying to resolve the problem, then I don’t care if she left in tears. It’s easy to tweet; it’s harder to face a live human being to express your displeasure.

  • 2 Gil Velasquez // Aug 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    As someone familiar with all aspects of this locally, allow me to expand on what happened for the readers.

    The bartender in this case was bad-mouthing a highly respected bar owner in Houston named Bobby Heugel who owns a bar that everyone here loves and has become a mixology destination on various networks, etc. The Twitterer in this case, Allison, made a Tweet about that and was upset.

    The bartender had said his disparaging remarks in earshot of everyone – the patron did it on Twitter, not in the establishment (she called him a #twerp). The owner then phoned in to kick out the Twitterer (not even showing up).

    So, that being said, the next move was that Down House employees and staff stormed the various blogs and did anonymous postings in defense of their establishment, then vehemently denied they were doing it, which made it worse.

    End of the day? Best move by Down House would have been to simply handle this the next day, when everyone had a great night’s sleep and calmer heads prevailed. How to handle at the time? Basically, you are a service-sector restaurant, you have to lock it up and be professional even if it kills you.

  • 3 Brad Schmidt // Aug 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    There sounds like there’s plenty of room for argument about whether it was fair or unfair, wise or moronic.

    But I think the question you pose is pretty simple – because in the real world, “fair” is a) pretty subjective and b) irrelevant. The fact is that the owner or management of a private establishment thankfully still has the right to eject anyone they want for any reason, including not liking their haricut.

    Now whether or not it was a good business decision here is a different question, obviously.

  • 4 Brad Schmidt // Aug 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    And Jan, in answer to your question about Tweeting as long as its positive, sure, you can make that rule too. I really wouldn’t advise a company to do it, as social media suicide isn’t a fun way to die, but if that’s the rule they want to go with, so be it. And remember, they don’t need to see your phone or anything – they just need to assume it’s you that posted.

    Heck, they can even be wrong – becuase like I said, the bottom line is if they want to eject you because you’ve tied your shoelaces unevenly, they can.

    And that’s actually a good thing (but a bad business move for obvious reasons).

  • 5 Jan Norris // Aug 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    True, Brad – on all points. But I always think it’s funny that many restaurants encourage (and hire) tweeters and FBers to glorify them, inviting them in for meet-ups, etc., but if it goes the other way, they’re the first to cry foul in a very public way.
    Be careful what you wish for, I suppose.
    Yes, I’m glad restaurants can eject patrons for any reason, really, but I believe they should remember they’re in the hospitality business.

  • 6 Brad Schmidt // Aug 17, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    I agree 100% Jan, with everything. In fact, I’d hope that a restaurant that bites back for negative Tweeting or reviews (as opposed to dealing with the customer service issue and listening to complaints) get what’s coming to them.

    I’m just saying there’s no law against stupid, which is both a great thing as well as (at times) a drag (I mean wouldn’t it be great to pick up the cast of Jersey Shore on charges of being idiots?)

  • 7 Jan Norris // Aug 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Yes, yes, and yes!
    There are a handful of restaurateurs I would hope will go under (including one in this county) with a bang for their lack of civility – even the basics – with customers.
    They have no business being in the business – they should be fight promoters or some such thing that begs foul mouth shouting and provocation. Well, that’s giving fight promoters a bad name…

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