"In the past, people just sent bad soup back. Well, now they are getting on social media and telling all their friends and friends of friends how bad the soup was and why they should find other places to get soup in the future, so it takes the customer experience to another level," said Tom Garrity of the Garrity Group, a public relations firm in New Mexico.
"The challenge becomes — how do you respond when someone doesn't think your food or product is as great as you think it is?"
In Amy and Samy Bouzaglo's case, the bad reviews were compounded by their horrible reality TV experience. The couple said during a recent episode of "Kitchen Nightmares" that they needed professional guidance after years of battling terrible online reviews. They opened the pizzeria in an upscale Scottsdale neighborhood about six years ago.
"Kitchen Nightmares" follows Ramsay as he helps rebuild struggling restaurants. After one bite, he quickly deemed Amy's Baking Co. a disaster and chided the Bouzaglos for growing increasingly irate over his constructive feedback. Among his many critiques: The store-bought ravioli smelled "weird," a salmon burger was overcooked and a fig pizza was too sweet and arrived on raw dough.
"You need thick skin in this business," Ramsay said before walking out. It was the first time he wasn't able to reform a business, according to the show.
Amy's Baking Co. temporarily closed last week after the episode aired. A Bouzaglo spokesman said the couple wasn't available for an interview Monday. The restaurant's answering machine was full. Emails and Facebook messages were not returned.
A wall post published last week claimed the restaurant's Facebook, Yelp and Twitter accounts had been hacked, but hundreds of commenters expressed doubt. Social media sites show someone posting as a member of the Bouzaglo family had been insulting customers over negative reviews since at least 2010.