Not all food & drink critics in life are as sweet and charming as Kate Templeton in Love’s Kitchen. If only! While many food critics aren’t the stiff-upper lip, iron-clad stomached individuals like some movies suggest either, when it comes to the food game, acting like they are might prove more beneficial in the long-run.
The truth is, there’s no way to ensure a good review but there are some helpful things you can do to stack the odds in your favour. Reviews are unavoidably subjective and it’s up to the person to decide. So, whatever type of business you’re running, whether the press have approached you or you’ve approached them to review your place, the only thing you can do is put your best foot (and food) forward.
Before anything, pay attention to any reviews you already do have. It may sound obvious, but Google your establishment and see what waves you’ve made with your current customers. If any issues are flagged by them, can you resolve them before the food critic is set to arrive?
If you know in advance who is being sent to review your restaurant, research them as aggressively as you can. Go all FBI on them. Hire Veronica Mars or Nancy Drew if you need to. Learn everything and anything you can about them; their background, blatant likes and dislikes, and do they appreciate a hired helicopter to take them home? As you develop a better understanding of them, you’ll realise the best way to play their game.
Moreover, steer the staff. Yet again, if you know the person who’s being sent to review, show their photo to the staff so they can keep an eye out. Encourage them to make a fuss over this person but red alert: don’t smother them. Give them moments to themselves while being attentive and pre-emptive of their needs.
Likewise, you may have no clue who’s being sent. The critic may prefer a discreet dining experience to get a more ‘organic’ experience. In this case, great customer service is essential to success. It can make or break a business, let alone a review, so ensure staff are properly trained and looped in. Encourage staff to be consistent and clear with the communication to customers from the get-go. This can be achieved by setting emphatic rules of etiquette and having a clear aim of what you want your restaurant to be.
By knowing how you want your restaurant to be received, you can give the best impression of your establishment to a critic.