Manchester fine dining restaurant 47 King Street West caused a storm on social media and in the national news last week due to the vitriolic way a staff member responded to negative comments left by one of its customers.

Bride-to-be Melissa Grogan-Morgan left a comment on the restaurant’s Facebook page, which complained about the poor service they received while on her hen do. In response, the restaurant called the party ‘The chaviest worse most vile people ever to grace our restaurant’ (sic) among other insults.
The story spread like wildfire around social media and was picked up by the Manchester Evening News and even national papers such as the Telegraph and The Daily Mail, and was on the whole described as a social media ‘gaff’ that backfired on the restaurant.

But as the late, great entertainer P.T. Barnum famously said: “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”. Could the so-called ‘gaff actually be considered as a genius piece of social media marketing? After all, 47 King Street West has essentially just got themselves free publicity and notoriety, with people all over the world talking about them.

Yes, many people are disgusted by the way that the restaurant handled the complaint but from the sounds of it, the restaurant doesn’t seem to actually want everyone to come and dine in their establishment. As a fine dining restaurant, there is an inherent elitism in the way they position themselves in the market. Perhaps the ‘revenge’ comments left by the staff were in fact a clever piece of marketing using exclusion tactics, like an extreme version of Yorkie’s “It’s Not For Girls” slogan. Maybe their new slogan could be “47 King Street West: It’s Not For Cheap Chav Trash.”

Restaurant owner Mike Hymanson has issued an apology, calling the incident ‘regrettable’, but maybe it wasn’t so regrettable after all. We’ll have to wait and see whether his bookings go through the roof or fans of fine dining decide to go elsewhere.