We’ve all had bad restaurant experiences. Obnoxious service, bad food, outrageous prices—these things can all leave a bad taste in our mouths. They can even make us want to take to the web to vent about our displeasure and write cautionary tales for future customers.
But when you write a bad review about a restaurant that hasn’t even opened yet—meaning you’ve never actually been there—that’s a different story entirely. Apparently, that’s what one French man recently did when writing a review of the Michelin-starred Loiseau Des Ducs in Dijon five days before the restaurant opened its doors.
C’est un scandal!
The monsieur in question wrote on the Yelp-esque French website Pages Jeunes that Loiseau Des Ducs was “very over-rated. It was all show, there was very little on the plate, and the only thing that was well loaded was the bill.”
Now before you overreact, let’s give credit where credit is due: there probably was very little on the plate. In fact, there was most likely absolutely nothing, considering, you know, the restaurant wasn’t open for business nor making food yet.
But the folks at Loiseau Des Ducs didn’t take this lying down, sipping a glass of Côtes du Rhône, with a Gauloises cigarette dangling from their lips. Non!
Instead, the restaurant shelled out a reported €5,000 ($5,537 USD) to track down the reviewer, which they did. The man was brought before a judge who ordered him to pay €2,500 ($2,768) in damages, plus reimburse the restaurant for the money they spent finding him.
The craziest thing of all? This case went on in court for two years—which is longer than some murder trials.
While this stance may seem extreme, it does give rise to questions about pre-reviews and our insatiable thirst for hype.