Queensland restaurant owner hits back after scathing review: ‘We’re doing our best’

A small business owner in a Queensland town has urged customers to be "patient and kind" following a scathing restaurant review which she claims was "unjustified" and "unfair".

Patricia Smith from Mount Coolum, in the Sunshine Coast Region, has owned Beloporto Noosa Burger Bar since January 2020, but says the past two years have been stressful.

With Covid-19, housing shortages, rental price hikes and inflated produce prices, Ms Smith told Yahoo News Australia her business has suffered and insists they're "doing the best we can".

Patricia Smith, owner of Beloporto Burger Bar, a restaurant in Noosa, QLD,
Patricia Smith, owner of Beloporto Burger Bar in Noosa, QLD, hit back at a customer who left her an 'unfair' bad restaurant review. Source: Supplied

Left "frustrated" by a negative review she received from a customer on Google, Ms Smith decided to share it on Facebook.

The man took aim at the 30-minute wait for his burger, labelling it "a joke".

"I was first to order when the cook finally arrived. What a joke, never coming back," he slammed.

But defending her staff and her business Ms Smith urged others to be "patient and kind" to small businesses who, like everyone else, have also had it tough.

'Ongoing threats' to staff and businesses

The cook in question helps out occasionally to allow others to have a night off, Ms Smith explained to Yahoo News Australia.

He is a full-time apprentice during the day and sometimes heads straight to Beloporto for an evening shift, hence why he was "only five minutes" late.

"The current times in our region bring staffing issues to all our small businesses," she said, admitting recent events have made it tough to find suitable staff.

Ms Smith said Covid has threatened her business since the pandemic started in 2020, just months after she purchased the burger bar.

"The ongoing threat of my staff getting covid and having to isolate for seven days [is tough]. Being in the food industry, we are all about safety and hygiene in the workplace," she said.

"When Covid hit, and the government gave all the money out to workers, we found a huge shortage of people wanting jobs on the coast."

bad restaurant review, photo of Patrica Smith
The review took aim at the wait time which Ms Smith put down to ongoing staffing issues across the industry. Source: Supplied

This coupled with the rise of rent prices in Queensland and the lack of suitable rental properties "makes it very hard to entice people to stay living in the area."

But the soaring produce prices in recent months has added another layer of struggle, with the business owner admitting "it's even more stressful."

"Produce has increased dramatically, but we can't just put all our prices up," she told Yahoo News Australia.

The shortage of lettuce and its crippling price point forced some fast-food chains, including KFC, to replace the leafy vegetable with cabbage, but that's not something Ms Smith wants to do.

"I will never put cabbage on a burger so it takes a lot of time out of my busy day to source affordable, decent produce to serve to our customers," she said.

Restaurant owner hits back: 'Petty and unjustified'

Ms Smith said the review bothered her, mainly because it wasn't about her food at all.

"His whinge was about waiting too long for his order to be ready, not about our meals at all," she said.

"It's unfair that people can make Google reviews about petty things that are unjustified.

"The majority of our customers are very supportive and lovely and I thank them for their continued support.

"But people need to be mindful that [we] are [also] under stress."

Others praised Ms Smith and her business.

"Always great service and enjoy the burgers," one wrote on Facebook.

"Hospitality is definitely suffering with staff shortage at the moment!! Definitely feeling for your everyday struggles" another said.

"Keep your head up lovely you can’t please everyone but you are definitely doing the best you can."

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.