Saturday, 6 October 2012

Gilby's controversy

It was with great interest that I accessed Facebook on Thursday night, having been alerted by a friend that there was a furore going on at the Facebook site of Gilby’s Restaurant on the East Derwent Highway at Lindisfarne.

What I read there astonished me.

OK, so it’s normal for people to either criticize or compliment a restaurant or cafĂ©, depending on what sort of time the recipients had at the establishment. That’s acceptable, and to be expected. It has gone on since time immemorial, and will continue long after we are all long gone. (I am imagining a cave-family in olden times, with mum standing over the fire in their cave, bbq-ing dads recently dispatched feral pig for the family meal, then clonking dad over the head with a large bone from said pig after he whinged that she hadn’t cooked it long enough and had broken one of his teeth on it!)

But it was the initial reaction to a comment added to Gilby’s Facebook page which astounded me. Never, in all my years of socializing, fraternizing, working and networking here in Hobart, have I ever seen a response like Gilby’s, from a restaurant owner to a reasonable criticism from a customer.

The first few comments (which eventually totalled 88, at last viewing) read thusly:

Susan Storr said:
“Apparently you can't get water (and I am talking tap water) at Gilby's unless you are drinking alcohol. Yesterday a friend of mine and two other ladies were there for afternoon tea (coffee and cake) and one of the ladies (who incidently has a serious medical condition) required some water. She was grudgingly given a half a small glass of tap water and the other two ladies were NOT offered water. I have never heard of this anywhere else in Australia or New Zealand. Buck up your ideas Gilby's; bad news travels fast!”

Gilby’s replied:
“Hi Susan if you want water stay at home and drink your fill!”

Susan replied with:
“WOW, what a pathetic response to a genuine grievance. Prior to this water incident which was experienced by a friend and not me personally, I had eaten at Gilbys at least 8 times and had recommended the restaurant to many people. Your PR skills are sadly lacking and whoever you are have the intestinal fortitude to put your name to this negative and seemingly unintelligent comment instead of "hiding" under the "umbrella" of the restaurant name.”

……and so it continued on…….
I made a comment on my personal Facebook page, and many of my friends who happened to read Facebook on Thursday evening, took my advice, went to the Gilby’s page, read it, and returned to agree with me in expressing their disgust at Gilby’s response to the criticisms levelled at them. Everyone, on both the Gilby’s page, and my Facebook page, quite definitively stated that, given the response by Gilby’s which they had read with their own eyes (ie, it wasn’t something they read about in The Mercury, secondhand), they would never eat there or recommend it to anyone.

My question: given that Hobart is indeed so small, how could Gilby’s possibly think they can trade their way out of this? How could a business owner in this current economic climate respond to a customer in the way they did, above?

Absolutely, gobsmackingly amazing!

Anyway, it’s all philosophical now, as by yesterday (Friday) morning, Gilby’s Facebook page had been removed, and all evidence of controversy removed for posterity! It's almost like it never happened - except we know it DID!

Posted on by Rita


Christina said...

And so does everyone else now Rita as it's in todays Mercury also. I really dont know how they expect to keep their doors open after this.
For the owner to say he has a strong client base and didn't recognise anyone posting on facebook was just another silly and thoughtless comment from these people. What about potential customers?
I was lucky enough to see most comments posted on Thursday but had been told there was another Facebook page with negative comments from the owners. I thought I'd check this out as early as 4.30am Friday and both pages had been removed. As I commented on your facebook post...they shut gate after the horse had bolted.
In the end it wasn't so much about whether they provided water or not, but the immature and disrespectful way these restaurant owners handled the feedback.
I have been to Gilby's and very much enjoyed my meal. I had been planning to I'm not!

Anonymous said...

And now it's made news in the Mercury!!

Anonymous said...

Nice food at Gilby's but the owners have had an "attitude" since it opened-a bit like Faulty Towers!! You just feel a bit uncomfortable being there like they are doing you a favour!
I really dont know how they have managed to stay open as when i go past at night at the prime dinner time its nearlly always empty.

Anonymous said...

I think the brave owners of Gilbys ought be applauded for their honest attempt to drag spoiled Hobartians out into the realities of what running a food business actually costs.
The pervasive attitude from diners here is one of deluded entitlement.
How anyone can honestly think that taking the time of the staff, occupying a table and keeping the kitchen and its related expenses idling whilst someone lingers over a free glass of water is remotely OK, is beyond me.
Why do so many Hobart food businesses struggle? I would suggest that combative attitudes from begrudging diners like these are regretfully all too common in this city.
I agree-you want water, drink your fill at home before you come and don't arrogantly demand that the business absorb the cost of your miserly custom.
Giovanni Van Bronkhorst, Kingston

Anonymous said...

Geilston Bay's Gilby's Restaurant owner Robert Bernardis would like you all to stop drinking his water and get a life so please stop going there he doesn't want people going to his restaurant. If you could just post the money you would spend there and he'll just give you your insult over the phone. That way he won't have to waist his time cooking for you, he can save on over heads and won't have to look at your young smug faces. Just saying

'miserly customer' said...

Giovanni, clearly your comment on The Mercury website was not enough? I will assume you do not have the intelligence to rephrase, instead reverting to a cut and paste job.

Anonymous said...

'Waist?' 'over heads?' No he only wants literate ppl at his restaurant

Anonymous said...

you people are funny

Anonymous said...

Actually Miserly, I expanded on Ritas site. Merc only allows 500 characters. But then you'd know that being intelligent as well as miserly

Anonymous said...

The way Southern Water is charging for water it will soon be more expensive than alcohol.

Victor said...

Wow, the battle of "The Diner and The Chef"! This should make a good reality TV show, maybe get a better rating than "The Beauty and The Geek". :-)

Anonymous said...

When Gilby's first opened, my daughter who was in year 10 at the time, went to Gilby's with a friend for a Hot Chocolate. They are both well mannered responsible girls but were refused service. The impression was that as they were from the local high school they were not welcome. Well first impressions last and as a result I have not stepped foot inside Gilby's. One would think that given they have opened a restaurant within a suburban area they would be accommodating and family friendly. Apparently this might not the case. I am often surprised by the arrogance of some people within the restaurant game. I believe that some of them don't understand the meaning of hospitality or believe it is the industry that they work in. For goodness sake give your patrons some water, and if you have empty tables, and by all accounts that is common in the case of Gilby's, then adjust your attitude about people staying a while. It means they are happy, relaxed and likely to come again. I agree that it may be difficult to keep the doors open with such negative publicity. I note that recently the very popular Hapka's Pizza was recently evicted from the adjoining shop. It appears as though Gilby's are aiming to profit from Hapka's goodwill by opening a pizza place of their own to boost flagging profits maybe. I won't be going there. By the way Hapka's have reopened at the Risdon Vale shops for those that were unaware and still provide a great product and friendly service.

Nuf Sed said...

Fuck me dead
I've been around this industry for a long time and this has gotta be the fist time I've heard the " We don't serve water" bull shit.

Guess what buddy.
I go out for dinner, I always order water. I order other drinks that I do pay for, but I expect and appreciate water.

As for the owners comment "Southern Water charge us for water" ... Yes, any idea how much?? An entire bath filled with water will cost you a grand sum of 7 cents. Heck, it may mean you need to work for 10 years longer than planned before retiring but one good turn deserves another.

I heard that suppliers also charge restaurant owners for serviettes - Let me guess - You have a surcharge for those too?

Anyone with an IQ higher than 7 simply completes a business plan before they open a business, to work out what it will cost them to operate. If you are too stingey to provide water then close the fucking doors because you have no place in this industry.

UTAS School of Management director was correct in his remarks regarding the owners stupidity on the facebook page - Your problems are ... guess what, YOURS and you need to deal with them, not proivde long lists of bullshit to your potential clientele.

Anonymous said...

The last comment typifies the vilification of cafe owners by anonymous bleaters which is all too common to Hobart.
They don't serve water to non alcohol drinkers. That IS part of their business plan and as far as I can tell, they haven't broken any law?
Lets say an establishment is an Indian restaurant and a few punters who arrive want Mexican food. After explaining to the customers that they only serve Indian food, is it appropriate for the owners to be subjected to an online campaign of bullying and harassment?
Yes these owners made the classic mistake of trying to justify online what their position was and they did it awkwardly however the rabid responses of those jealous Restaurant/cafe haters drowned out any hope of a respectful dialogue.
The anonymous commentees must take stock of potentially damaging this operation. If you feel the owners have damaged it themselves with their reluctance to serve water then isn't it best to leave them be?
If you don't like the place just don't patronize it but an online Alan Jones-esque witch hunt is simply not the way to handle it.
Edgar Davids, Kingston

Mel B said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rita said...

Mel B - sorry, but I have just deleted your comment about Gilby's under advisement that it may implicate me in legal issues. I usually prefer to give all readers a chance to have their say, and did in fact publish your comment this afternoon.....till now.

lemon curd said...

I think we’re drifting away from the issue at the heart of this discussion.

I think this should centre more around the owners reaction to the original feedback –something Rita highlights well in her original post. Without dwelling on the whys and why nots, short fact of the matter is it could have been dealt with a hell of a lot better than it was. Had they simply replied with a “Hey thanks for the feedback, we really appreciate it. Here’s why we are worried about serving free tap water…” –guest is happy she has been responded too, visitors to the site can see that an appropriate response has been made and all are happy. They had a couple of opportunities since even to make such a response, but regrettably they still haven’t managed to make their views (which at the end of the day are concerns that face a lot of small business owners and SHOULD be discussed in such forums) clear in a mature way.

That aside, free tap water will always be a contentious issue – but long of the short of it, it is up to the individual operator as to whether they supply it or not – but as a licensee they have to provide both low and non alcoholic beverages *for sale* alongside alcoholic and from what I interpreted from The Mercury article the other day, he didn’t have a bottled water alternative at that stage. To say that it is against the law to not serve free tap water as they serve alcohol is simply untrue.

Anonymous said...

Sign on window that it closed last Sunday and going to change name

Anonymous said...

mr bernadis and his attitude has and will never change, two years ago he cut the water supply of to eluera hair studio next door to gilbys, the tennants complained because they needed water to flush toilets and wash clients hair,typical response to the tennant from mr beradis was , oh use a bucket, please remember that he owns all the buildings in that complex
typical landlord that did not care

Anonymous said...

If my memory serves me correctly - two years ago - eluera hair studio was in the middle of a construction site when the water main was severed by accident by some machinery working on the site. The pipe work was jury rigged using a garden hose until the plumber was able to repair the break. My guess is that jokingly the Hair salon workers where told to use a bucket if they needed water.
Rob the Landlord is a joking sort of guy - this has got him into trouble on more than one occasion.
Funny that this should surface now when it wasn't an issue at the time ... looks a lot like sticking the knife in when you can.

Anonymous said...

look now what has happend to the old gilbys site, the leopard has changed its spots, from gilbys to venizia, a pitza bar or something, the sign out the front says byo, i wonder if that refers to water?mr bernadis opened this venture last night 8/11/2012

Winsor Dobbin said...

Giovanni van Bronkhorst? Edgar Davids? We are not all stupid you know. Of course restaurants should serve water to anyone requiring it. They should factor the minimal costs into their planning, although the fact they have not suggests a lack of professionalism all round