Earlier this week, I posted about the Facebook meltdown, trials and tribulations and bad PR of Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro in Scottsdale. Arizona (Epic Facebook meltdown, PR fail or publicity ploy?).
This un-reality show couldn’t get much stranger. It has more twists, turns and intrigue than a Shakespearean tragedy. Or maybe the Keystone Cops would be more accurate?
The bistro was featured in a raucous season finale episode on Kitchen Nightmares featuring explosive celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
It was an entertaining and highly-charged reality TV episode complete with drama, screaming, yelling, heroes and villains.
A weekend Facebook firefight with critics followed and finished with a social media meltdown and bad PR. The Facebook page then went quiet and all vitriol by the owners and critical comments by posters were removed.
Meanwhile the number of Facebook “likes” has ballooned further to 82,575 “likes” at time of posting from just over 3,000 several several months ago.
A Scottsdale PR firm arrived on the scene. Ostensibly to provide advice, and start the reputation restoration of this now infamous local bakery restaurant.
Classic bad PR damage control rolls out.
The news release. A planned news conference to speak to the issue. The reopening event with part proceeds to a charity. Owners available to answer questions about reality TV “falsehoods”, alleged theft of restaurant staff tips and the owners’ pledge to tell their side of the story.
All well and good until you look closely at the news release and substance of the planned news conference and reopening event.
Facebook news release features comical attempt to restore restaurant reputation
This story has more strange twists than a German pretzel.
The restaurant’s PR firm posted an online news release. PR professionals and media, please fasten your seatbelts.
It was so bizarre that I’ve posted it word for word so you can read for yourself:
Other Side of Amy’s Baking Company Controversy in Scottsdale
To Soon Be Told
SCOTTSDALE, AZ. MAY 15, 2013 — Amy’s Baking Company will host a Grand Re-Opening on Tuesday night, May 21, following unflattering portrayals on national television.
Customers will be able to decide who is correct: a famous celebrity chef or the marketplace that has supported the small, locally-owned business for six years.
When re-opened, a portion of proceeds will benefit a charity organized to bring awareness to cyber bullying.
Seating is limited. Reservations may be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diners will also have the opportunity to meet, and judge for themselves the character of owners Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, who have devoted their lives to and earn their living from their small restaurant. The Bouzaglos have been married for 10 years, after Sammy emigrated from Israel.
The owners will likely be holding a press conference before the Grand Re-Opening and answer falsehoods depicted on a reality television show, including assertions that the restaurant confiscates tips from servers.
In fact, wait staff is paid $8-$14 per hour, two and half to nearly five times the standard hourly wage for servers.
Questions will also be answered about what happened to their Facebook page.
Amy’s Baking Company was recently featured on the hit PBS show “Check Please” and has received A+ reports from CBS 5 for kitchen preparedness.
“We are very upset by what has taken place, apologize about the acrimony that has ensued but now must fight back to save our business. We hope and believe much good can result from what has transpired. We ask the public to keep an open mind as we begin to tell our side of the story,” Samy Bouzaglo said.
For more details, please contact Michael Saucier.
Kind of takes your breath away doesn’t it?
I’ve kept a screenshot of the Facebook news release too, just for the record.
Amy’s Bistro amateur hour, bad PR continues
Here’s why things look ready to unravel again.
Amateur hour continues as you delve deeper into the “news release” posted on the Facebook page. It’s a comedy of errors including:
- The strategy: A “Grand Re-Opening” after six years of operation (did they close, renovate and reopen in just ten days?)
- No working links, no time of event published in the news release
- Promise of “portion of proceeds will benefit a charity organized to bring awareness to cyber bullying”; ironic given the owners’ yelling at each other, screaming at customers and bullying of staff on national TV
- No disclosure of the identity of the charity nor the fund-raising goal
- We’re told in the news release that “The owners will likely [my emphasis] be holding a press conference before the Grand Re-Opening and answer falsehoods depicted on a reality television show, including assertions that the restaurant confiscates tips from servers.”
- Mistaken spelling of owner Samy’s name (it’s not Sammy)
- Unclear if “reservations” are for media, VIPs or regular restaurant patrons?
- Unclear who and how diners will ” judge for themselves the character of owners Amy and Samy Bouzaglo”
- It will be difficult to “answer questions about what happened to their Facebook page” when the owners’ offending diatribes and critical visitor posts have been removed; fortunately numerous news articles have posted copies of the Facebook diatribes for posterity and entertainment
- Mention is made of positive PBS and CBS 5 TV reports on the restaurant but no links to the programs are provided
- No phone number for the suggested dinner (?) reservations – just an email for Jason Rose, president of PR agency Rose+Moser+Allyn Public and Online Relations
- No contact telephone number for listed source “Michael Saucier” who does not appear on the PR agency’s website
- No real apology, just a lukewarm mea culpa from the co-owner Samy in a final quote at the end of the news release.
Really, this is why news releases are dying.
No news. Not useful. No contact information. No certainty. Missing core information. And, it’s just plain weird.
Not much more to say except that amateur hour continues at Amy’s Bakery.
This bizarre scene initially captured the attention of many media who featured the “meltdown on Facebook” without exploring the possibility of a total publicity ploy.
I hope local Arizona media do some investigating here.
We’re holding our breath that the Grand Re-Opening on May 21st provides more fireworks.
Some publicists in Hollywood would say “There’s no such thing as bad publicity!”
Or is there?
One thing I can guarantee. The public and the media never like to be manipulated.
If anything interesting develops further, I’ll keep you posted. I just haven’t decided yet whether it’s a great day or a terrible day in PR.
You can take our poll here: “PR fail or publicity stunt?”. Would love to hear from Phoenix and Scottsdale PR people in particular.
Author: Jeff Domansky
Visuals: from YouTube TV clips of Kitchen Nightmares season finale