A café owner has hit back against a food blogger's critique of a $9.50 milkshake at her venue — saying more needs to be done to lessen the level of public scrutiny hospitality venues are subjected to.
The food blogger, who goes by Smash'd Sydney — an online restaurant recommendation platform — visited Quick Brown Fox in Pyrmont on Sunday afternoon and purchased a chocolate milkshake for $9.50. Disappointed with the price, size and quality of the drink, the content creator shared her view with followers.
"Sydney inflation got me today. $9.50 for a milkshake in a water glass. And it didn't even taste good," the post read, accompanied by a photo of the drink in question.
The blogger tagged the venue's account online and also gave followers the opportunity to share their own example of an "overpriced" menu item they've copped recently.
Cafe owner responds to review
Emily Calabro, 29, who co-owns the business with her brother Ben, spotted the social media post after serving the blogger and reached out to express her dissatisfaction, claiming there had been no indication the customer was unhappy at the time.
"I messaged her, and I just said, 'Look, I would appreciate if you took your post down. You've exposed this to almost 4,000 people ... I find it absolutely appalling the way you've gone about it'," Ms Calabro told Yahoo News Australia.
The food blogger initially stood firm on her decision and kept the post online.
"I was just sharing it, I thought the milkshake was overpriced and that's all I said [online]," the food blogger told Yahoo News, saying she received several negative messages in the wake of her review. "For her it was way more personal than I thought it would be, for me it was just about a milkshake."
After messaging "back and forward" the café owner decided to "stoop to her level" and wrote a scathing post online accusing the food blogger of a "cowardly" act.
"If it's okay for you to hide behind your phone and degrade my venue, I'm allowed to voice my opinion back to the public," Ms Calabro said.
The food blogger later took the content off social media and apologised after saying she felt "pressured" to do so.
Café owner defends milkshake price
Ms Calabro said until recently her customers could buy a coffee for $4 but inflation and the rising cost of running a business has forced her to make price changes, even for a drink made up of "syrup, ice cream and milk".
"There's so much that goes into the pricing of a menu and items, it's not just the cost of goods, there's the ongoing costs like electricity, gas, rent, the staff wages," she said. "Every week to every month we're getting costs increases."
The café owner acknowledged her impassioned "rant" may not have been the right way to approach the situation, yet stands firm with her position and is "glad" now the food blogger has removed the post.
"I feel like maybe she's learned her lesson. In doing so, I feel better about it ... It sort of turned out in my favour," she said.
Ms Calabro believes this incident is another example of the ongoing scrutiny hospitality venues are facing from the public and said more "education" is needed to take businesses out of the firing line as the cost of living rises.
"[If there's an issue] speak up at the time, ask for aspects be remade or something. There's always ways that we can prevent customers from having a negative experience."
Cost of making common cafe orders rise by 17 per cent
The rising cost of running a hospitality business has forced a wave of venue closures across the country after many fell victim to the plummet in patron accessibility during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Australian café industry, worth $6.6 billion, has been hit hard by rising costs and top café orders now costs venues approximately 17 per cent more compared to two years ago, Reuters reports.
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