We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
It started off with what seemed like a run-of-the-mill Yelp rant: “Emma C.” gave Nick’s Riverside Grill one star for allegedly overcharging her for a drink and then failing to return her phone call.
But in a public response from a manager, things started to get messy. Really messy.
The manager, “Liz S.,” called out the Yelper for allegedly losing control of her bowels in the middle of the restaurant and sitting in it for the remainder of the evening. The restaurant claimed they had to reroute patrons so they wouldn’t walk through the mess, and that the Yelper threw her underwear away in their trash can, forcing an employee to clean up her feces.
“Out of compassion and being decent human beings we did not charge you a waste removal fee,” the Nick’s Riverside Grill manager wrote, concluding, “We would be happy to refund your entire bill with the understanding you will never return to any of our establishments until you are potty trained.”
Owner Greg Casten says he allowed his manager to write the response, which has started to make the rounds on social media thanks to a post from fire and EMS news site STATter911. While Casten says he never wanted the Yelp response to go viral, he did want to set the record straight from the restaurant’s point of view.
“As a restaurateur, I wanted to (1) respond to an untruthful review and (2) be sure the patron knew what discomfort they had brought to some very hard working people,” Casten tells Y&H via email. “Considering I knew the details — I thought the letter was forceful, truthful, and I thus said OK.”
UPDATE (6/1/16): Emma C. has contacted City Paper to say that she is not the woman in question. “It was merely a coincidence that I was at the bar the same night as this other girl, who I feel bad for since she is also being publicly dragged through the media,” says Emma, who wished not to publicly disclose her full name, in an email. “I just wanted to clarify that I’m just a dissatisfied customer who is now being accused by this establishment of being someone that I’m not, saying some very nasty things about me and also insulting this other girl who could potentially have serious health issues… It’s ridiculous, irresponsible and extremely upsetting.”
Emma adds that she did not see or know the other woman, although people she was with did see her there at the same time.
UPDATE (6/2/16): Casten says he will research the incident again. “I do not want to accuse anyone of anything they did not do, and since this is her response, I will detail what I discover, as I did originally,” he writes in an email. “As stated I did speak with a number of the staff and did view the film, and before her response, my employees remain confident. All that said – mistakes can happen – so will let you know.”
UPDATE (6/3/16): Casten now admits a case of mistaken identity and apologizes. Read more here.
Emma ultimately took down her Yelp review because of mean comments from strangers, but STATter911 captured the exchange:
NEVER GO AGAIN！WORST SERVICE！I went there for happy hour and they hold my card at the bar. Charged me two drinks and more while I only ordered one hh drink. I asked the bartender, he said he didn’t have the right to change the bill and asked me to call the managerlater since he’s out. I called and they just said manager is really busy and will call me back. As u can figure, no call at all. And they post the charge without my signature! I didn’t sign the bill!! If u swipe my card wrongly for someone else, I’m not the one paying for it.
And here’s the response from “Liz S.” of Nick’s Riverside Grill:
Hi Emma, We would like to address your complaint from the other evening. First of all, a manager did call you back, left a message and you chose to not return that call, probably because you didn’t want to discuss the event’s that occurred at our establishment that evening. We spoke to both bartenders and they are both confident that you did in fact have 2 happy hour drinks. You aren’t hard to forget considering… Out of compassion and being decent human beings we did not charge you a waste removal fee. We were trying not to cause anymore embarrassment or humiliation to you. But after receiving your phone call and seeing this review on yelp, we feel we are justified in defending ourselves. The fact of the matter is you lost control of your bowels in the middle of our restaurant, and you proceeded to sit in it for the remainder of the evening, making more of a mess. We had to reroute our other patrons so they didn’t walk through your mess, causing quite a scene. You then proceeded to throw your underwear away in our trash can and our poor manager working that night was left to clean up your feces. So for you to have the audacity to leave this review when we went above and beyond to make sure you were taken care of is petty and ridiculous. We hope in the future you will think before you act. We would be happy to refund your entire bill with the understanding you will never return to any of our establishments until you are potty trained.
Owner Greg Casten elaborates to Y&H:
While an unfortunate incident in general, the woman and her friends left a real mess, included numerous towels we had provided discarded in the restaurant, dirty clothing thrown away in the bathrooms, a ugly, smelly mess just outside our front door and some very distraught employees.
The incident involved the Fire Fighters- EMT’s (with whom she refused to leave the scene in an ambulance, signing a form saying she would not depart with them), we have the woman on film, we have two bartenders who recognize her (and her picture on the yelp review) and identified the exact number of drinks she consumed – two beers, she did not appear intoxicated to the bartenders although the manager saw her walking in a very awkward manner just prior to the incident.
After the incident the woman returned to retrieve her credit card, and it was at this point that she complained about the overcharge (forgetting one’s cared left for a tab at our outside bars is a common occurrence at out patio bars) and she requested a manager contact her. She also called later to speak with a manager and provided a phone number which we did attempt to call several times – no answer – no return call. She then, evidently, wrote the yelp review – which was not true (as noted above). Perhaps she had a situation, perhaps not, but the yelp review was a bit much for the staff after all that had occurred.
And so yes I allowed the response as it was truthful. Did I want it to go viral as they say – no – but as a restaurateur I wanted to (1) respond to an untruthful review and (2) be sure the patron knew what discomfort they had brought to some very hard working people and considering I knew the details – I thought the letter was forceful, truthful, and I thus said OK.
Emma C.’s response:
This is Emma C. who left the Yelp review of Nick’s Riverside Grill. I’m writing to defend myself and hopefully prevent anyone from continuing to spread a story that isn’t true since this has already had a negative impact on me personally.
To clarify, I went to the restaurant for happy hour with my co-workers and left my card there. The next day when I tried to get it back, I found they overcharged me. I told the bartender to correct my bill and said I couldn’t sign the bill since it was wrong. The bartender told me he didn’t have the right to change the bill and that I needed to talk to the manager, but the manager wasn’t there so he told me to call. I left without signing the bill and called the restaurant about three hours later. A lady picked up the call and told me the manager was very busy and couldn’t take the phone call. So they asked for my number and promised they would call back. The next morning I checked my card and noticed the transaction had been posted without my signature and there was no call, no voicemail at all since my complaint.
The poor service as I described above was the reason why I decided to leave the bad Yelp review about the restaurant. Shockingly, the manager from Nick’s replied and instead of apologizing, immediately jumped to the conclusion that I was the girl who got sick and pooped at the bar, and then insulted me in every way possible. It was merely a coincidence that I was at the bar the same night as this other girl, who I feel bad for since she is also being publicly dragged through the media.
I just wanted to clarify that I’m just a dissatisfied customer who is now being accused by this establishment of being someone that I’m not, saying some very nasty things about me and also insulting this other girl who could potentially have serious health issues. I began to receive mean Yelp comments from strangers which is why I had to delete my Yelp review and Nick’s response.
We were wearing different outfits (I was wearing striped pants and the girl who had the accident was wearing a dress) and we have different hair colors and lengths. I’m wondering how they could identify the other girl as me. It’s ridiculous, irresponsible and extremely upsetting. We need to let people know the truth and Nick’s should apologize.