How to reply to bad restaurant reviews: easy-to-follow tips and examples

How to manage a restaurant online

No matter how good your food is, how exceptional your service, and how optimized all your processes are, you will get bad reviews. While receiving negative reviews is inevitable, you control how you respond to them.

How you reply to bad restaurant reviews can make or break your business, so read the following article carefully to learn how to do it properly.

Why you should reply to all bad restaurant reviews

What’s the first thing you do when searching for a new place to eat near you? Check the online reviews! So do 77% of online internet users! Therefore, you must be aware that anyone who finds your restaurant online will also see your reviews.

The good news is that 89% of consumers are likely to still order from your business if you reply to all your online reviews. Check out the benefits of taking time out of your busy schedule to reply to every single positive or negative review.

You receive important feedback

As your restaurant depends on the customers’ orders, focus on their feedback to improve your business. Take to heart every comment and investigate further to get to the root of every problem.

You can ask the reviewer to send you more details in a private message or through email so you can offer them the best solution.

For example, if you read more than three comments complaining about cold food, you clearly have a problem along the delivery process. Find out what is wrong and let the reviewers know when you have solved the issue.

You build trust with your community

If you ignore bad restaurant reviews, the audience will think you don't care about the business and how it is perceived. On the other hand, if you reply to every comment, even with short answers, you show customers you care and want to offer them the best experience.

Show your community you care about their opinion by posting personalized replies, including their name, and inviting them to discuss further in private.

You can improve your local SEO

Google has many factors involved in ranking a business in local results, and online Google reviews amount to 16% of them. Consequently, if you want your restaurant on the first page of Google, mention your business’s name every time you reply to a positive review.

Avoid including your restaurant's name when replying to bad reviews, as your ultimate goal is to change them.

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Read more: How to Optimize Google My Business for Your Restaurant: Must-Know Tips

You can change bad reviews into happy customers

Not only can a bad review be a learning experience, but with a little effort and the right words, you can convince the clients to give you a second chance.

If you solve the problems mentioned in the reviews and invite the customers back for a flawless experience, they may change their negative review into a positive one.

Easy to follow formula for replying to negative reviews

It may be hard to remember all the advice when replying to bad restaurant reviews, but, in time, it will become second nature. For starters, we are here to help you with a simple formula you can copy-paste into your sticky notes and personalize every time you need it.

Thank them for their time - Say sorry – Empathize with their situation – Offer a solution – Invite them to discuss further in private

Let’s see an example:

Bad restaurant review: We ordered two times, and both times the food arrived cold! The pizza looked good, but we couldn't really enjoy it as it was not hot!

Answer using the formula provided: Hello Mike! Thank you for taking the time to review our restaurant! I am sorry the food arrived cold, and you could not enjoy our delicious pizza. I want to make it up to you and offer you a voucher for a free meal, please contact me at name@restaurant to discuss further details! Have a good day!

Tips for replying to bad reviews about your restaurant

It’s important to respond to every bad restaurant review, and it is essential to do it promptly. Make it a habit to check every review platform at least once every two to three days and reply to any new comments.

Moreover, pay attention to spelling and grammar. To maintain a professional image for your restaurant, the message should be easy-to-read with structured paragraphs. Here are more tips for turning bad reviews into positive ones.

Address the reviewer

Some restaurants make the mistake of using the same standardized response for every review. This shows they don't care about their customers. They only want to please the search engines by leaving a reply.

Show your clients you value their opinion by addressing them by their name and including details about the situation mentioned in their comments.

Also, avoid replying as a restaurant (e.g., at the pizza restaurant, we are sorry to hear that). Instead, be personal, such as "Hello, Mike, my name is Andrei, the owner of X place, and I would like to personally apologize."

Present apologies

Firstly, never reply to reviews when you are angry. Some bad restaurant reviews can be awful and directly attack you, the owner, or other people and things you may hold dear. Take a few deep breaths and allow the anger to wash away so you can reply calmly and professionally.

Apologies are important because they show the restaurant's human side, and clients want to see the business take responsibility for its mistakes. There may be cases of false complaints, but you can still apologize that they had a bad experience and try to solve the issue in private.

Don't forget to thank the reviewer for the time they took to write about their experience. It is a great conversation starter, proving you are open to problem-solving.

Empathize in writing

Try to put yourself in the reviewer's position to empathize better with their situation. Don't get defensive. Maintain a professional and helpful tone, set on coming up with a solution that will benefit both the client and restaurant.

If you find that you are at fault for the problem described in the review, take full responsibility and don't leave it up to interpretation. Let the client know you understand their feelings and what went wrong and are available for further discussions and solutions.

Offer a solution

This is the most important part of a response to a bad review as it shows you aren't replying just for views. You are actually taking action. Explain how you resolved the error the client identified and what you plan to do to prevent the same issues in the future.

Even though you may not be able to sway that same customer into changing his reviews, other people will appreciate your openness to change and fast problem-solving.

For example, if a client had a problem with a rude waiter, let them know the employee was reprimanded and will participate in more training to improve customer interactions.

You can also offer some sort of retribution (free meal, a voucher for two more orders, etc.) as both a solution and a way to incentivize people to revisit your restaurant and have a better experience.

Encourage discussions in private

You can't write entire novels as a reply to bad restaurant reviews, so encourage reviewers to continue the discussion through other means, such as mail, phone, or direct message.

This way, you let them know you are not dismissing them but are willing to spend as much time as necessary to resolve their complaint.

Keep the answers short and sweet and any further interaction away from the review platforms as you don’t want other people to witness the whole process. Not to mention, all the replies will then be forever available on the internet for any search engine to find.

Examples of bad restaurant reviews and how to reply to them

The formula and tips provided above can be used for every review platform, but each one has some specific features you must consider. Let’s take them one by one and see some examples of how to efficiently reply to bad restaurant reviews.

Read more: 10 Restaurant Review Sites You Need to Be on Right Now

How to reply to bad reviews on Google

Bad reviews about restaurants left on Google also affect your SEO strategy as they are considered while locally ranking your business, so you should take extra care while replying to them. Here are some things you should always include:

  • If you can not come up with a solution on the spot, reply to the reviewer to let them know you are working on it and offer an ETA. Afterward, return and edit the comment;
  • Always end the message on a good note;
  • Only apologize if you were at fault for the issue.

Here is an example of an adequate reply to a bad review on Google:

bad reviews about restaurant

How to respond to negative reviews on Facebook

You want to use Facebook as a means to promote your business, not highlight its mistakes, so make replying to bad reviews a part of your marketing strategy. Let your mouth-watering food pictures shine and reply promptly to every comment:

  • Thank the reviewer for the time they took to review your business;
  • Offer an incentive for new orders or visits to your restaurant;
  • Offer to move the delicate discussion into direct messages where you can further assist them.

Here is a great example of how to reply to bad reviews on Facebook:

bad reviews examples for restaurant

How to reply to bad reviews on Yelp

Stand out from the millions of other restaurants on Yelp by implementing a clear strategy for replying to bad reviews. Here are a few pointers you must consider:

  • Include your name at the end or present yourself at the start of your reply to make it more personal;
  • Apologize for the specific problem they mention in the review;
  • Offer a discount or gift to help them change their mind and give your restaurant a second chance.

Here is a good example of replying to bad reviews on Yelp:

bad restaurant reviews examples, yelp bad restaurant reviews

How to respond to negative reviews on TripAdvisor

If your restaurant is located in a tourist spot, make sure to claim your business on TriAadvisor and update all the information so you will be easy to find with just a simple search on Google.

Keep your working hours and menu up-to-date to prevent any complaints related to incorrect information. Check out these tips for replying to bad reviews on Tripadvisor:

  • Don't use your restaurant's name in the reply. Only do so for positive reviews;
  • Offer details on how you solved the problem mentioned by the reviewer;
  • Maintain a polite and professional tone even if the review uses foul language.

Here is a professional example of replying to bad reviews on Tripadvisor:

bad reviews about restaurant
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Bad restaurant reviews greatly impact a restaurant's success, so you must always use a professional approach when replying.

Make it a habit to respond promptly and use the formula above to get accustomed to providing a personalized answer that includes all the relevant information, such as apologizing, offering solutions, and incentives.

Empathize with the reviewers and reply to convince them to change their minds and give your restaurant a second chance.

Otilia Dobos

Otilia Dobos is sometimes a content writer, other times a copywriter, but always produces high-quality content that helps clients up their marketing game. She devotes her attention to helping restaurant owners have a successful business with well-documented and SEO-optimized articles.

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