How a Toronto restaurant owner hit back after a 'vicious' review

Tobey Nemeth, chef and co-owner of Edulis restaurant, took to Instagram after an online review left her in "total shock."

Tobey Nemeth, co-owner of Edulis restaurant, says online review left her in 'total shock'

Tobey Nemeth (right) and her husband Michael Caballo own Edulis, a restaurant on Niagara Street that focuses on seafood, vegetables, and wild mushrooms. (Tobey Nemeth)

A Toronto restaurateur's Instagram response to a "vicious" online review has garnered hundreds of likes and comments in support.

The review, according to the recent Instagram post from Edulis restaurant, featured lines like, "Restaurants in Toronto don't stay at the top forever. I will not feel sorry for them when their time runs out."

"This is one of the cruellest and most vicious things anyone has ever said to us," reads the restaurant's response.

Tobey Nemeth, chef and co-owner of Edulis restaurant, told CBC's Metro Morning her initial reaction to the review, which appeared last week on the restaurant reservation website Bookenda, was "total shock."

"From the safety of anonymity in their homes while they're tapping away on their computers, I think they forget to realize that somebody's reading this, somebody who's invested their whole life," she said.

​Nemeth's lengthy response on Instagram addressed the online comments one by one, starting with a complaint that the restaurant wanted the customers to go to the bar next door. "It was cold outside and they would not let us in to warm up," the reviewer wrote.

In her response, Nemeth explained restaurants open at a certain time "(like) a bank, or a museum, or a doctor's office," to shield customers from the "unglamorous sight" of floors being swept and music being adjusted.

The review also featured the line, "The waitress was upselling us from the moment we walked in the door. We spent way more money than we needed to. And I mean way more."

"Well, it happens to be white truffle season," reads Nemeth's response, which later notes the customer rated the restaurant 5/5 stars for food that would cost significantly more at a fine dining restaurant in the U.S.

This type of review lacks consideration for the human beings behind a business, Nemeth said. "All the people that we support — our employees, the people that grow our onions, and make our cheese, and wash our windows — everybody is affected by something like this."

More than 700 people have liked her post, while more than a hundred more have left positive comments since it went up about a week ago.

Nemeth said her restaurant's response to the negative review also garnered support from her peers in the service industry.

"The sense of connection and community in the restaurant scene in Toronto was very reassuring… and I'm very grateful to most of our patrons who are incredibly kind and gracious to us," she said.

Nemeth has since removed the Bookenda review.

With files from CBC's Metro Morning

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