York restaurant owner leaves the best response on TripAdvisor ever

Apparently the customer isn’t always right

A customer who left a scathing TripAdvisor review has been cut down to size by a restaurant owner who pulls no punches.

Bennet’s Cafe & Bistro on High Petergate

Hannah C, from North Yorkshire, reviewed Bennett’s Cafe & Bistro – situated on High Petergate right next to York Minster – on December 7 and called it “absolutely awful” and a “dreadful place”.

In a review, titled “Over-priced and very rude staff”, Hannah C goes on to complain about being charged £2 for a hot water and slice of lemon which arrived late, and calls for the waiter who served her to be sacked.

Hannah C’s less than positive review on TripAdvisor

Instead of a sincere apology, the cafe’s owner Mark Fisher goes on the offensive explaining in intricate detail why her drink cost so much.

The manager’s response begins: “I’m sorry that you feel that you were ‘ripped off’ and I’ll try and explain why you weren’t.”

He then goes on to detail the entire process of making her drink. And when I say the entire process, I mean the entire process. The waiter’s time is meticulously recounted, in which, “he selected a knife, chopping board, got a lemon from the fridge, cut off a slice and put it in the cup. Then, he returned to the dining room, drew off the necessary hot water and carried the cup to your table.”

The restaurant owner’s response to the scathing review

He then moves on to the overheads which also have a bearing on the price of the drink: “The cost of overheads for the business, i.e. rent, business rates, electricity costs, bank charges, etc. works out at £27.50 per hour of trading.

“I pay my colleagues a decent living wage and after taking into account holiday pay, national insurance and non-productive time prior to opening and after closing, the waiter who served costs me £12.50 per hour. Therefore, together the cost is £40 per hour or 67p per minute, meaning that the cost of providing you with 2-3 minutes of service was £1.34-£2.00.

“Then the government add on VAT at 20 per cent which takes the cost of that cup of fruit infusion to between £1.60 and £2.40 irrespective of whether you had a teabag costing one and a half pence or a slice of lemon costing five pence.”

This brief economics lesson comes to a close and is as close to an apology as we get: “I accept that it makes the price of a cuppa in a city centre cafe look expensive compared to the one you make at home but unfortunately that’s the cruel reality of life. It’s actually the facilities that cost the money, far more so than the ingredients.

“Perhaps, the rudeness that you perceived in me was triggered by the disrespect that I perceived in you by your presumption that you could use our facilities and be waited on for free.”

Admittedly, £2 does seem too steep for a cup of hot water and lemon, but what would you expect from a restaurant situated 50 yards from one of the largest and grandest cathedrals in Europe?

Apparently the customer isn’t always right.