I think I have been to the Beluga restaurant once. I had lunch there during a trip to Cape Town a couple years ago and when I have thought about fancy places to visit during future trips, it has tended to pop up in my mind as a possibility. That won’t be happening anymore (not that this matters in the scheme of things). After reading about Shaun Oakes’ and his girlfriend’s recent experience there and, particularly, the owner’s responses to feedback from Shaun’s girlfriend, Beluga has the appeal of rotting fish on a beach on a hot day.
Its a familiar story about a poor experience at a restaurant although with a good response from a manager working that night. Unfortunately Beluga’s owner, Oscar Kotze, missed the boat entirely and behaved terribly:
As the restaurant owner though, is this the way you deal with patrons who say things you don’t like? Ban them and threaten to chase them away? Maybe I’m being biased, but I thought The Girlfriend’s email was pretty reasonable. Granted, some of the things she said made her sound quite pretentious a bit of a tit, but she was emotional at the time, so I am willing to forgive her. Oscar Kotze’s response was completely over the top though. This doesn’t feel right to me, he has a massively popular little spot in Cape Town, but he seems to have a really shitty way of dealing with people.
This has the makings of an academic case study for social marketers but it has a real world angle. Kotze ignored offensive behaviour by one of his waiters, threatened Shaun’s girlfriend with criminal charges and banned Shaun and his girlfriend from the restaurant altogether. Sure, its his restaurant and he can limit admission. At the same time his customers can choose to go elsewhere and hopefully some will. Will it make a difference to his trade? Possibly not. Is it important to know who you are dealing with when you visit a restaurant like Beluga? Absolutely. Be sure to read Shaun’s post and the comments too.