Restaurant Ejects Diner for Tweeting While Eating - UPDATED

Categories: News

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Social media isn't always as friendly as it sounds.
Ever since Te House of Tea and its sister restaurant, the now-defunct Saute World Bistro, signed up for Twitter accounts in August 2008 -- the first two restaurants in Houston to do so -- it's become not only de rigeur but almost necessary for a restaurant to have a Twitter account.

It's not enough now to have just a website or just a Facebook page: Customers want to interact with their favorite restaurants and chefs on Twitter, share mini-reviews or photos of dishes with their friends, namecheck hot restaurants and call out establishments that aren't up to par.

"Tweeting and eating go hand-in-hand these days," says Paula Murphy, whose firm -- Patterson & Murphy -- handles PR for a number of Houston restaurants.

"Restaurateurs and bar owners really want people to be in the moment and enjoy where they are and what they're eating and what they're drinking. Social media has changed all that," she elaborates. "Now, the way you show you're enjoying it is that you Tweet about it. You post it on Facebook. You have that other dimension of depth, the Twitterverse. But just as quickly as they could say something positive, they could say something offensive and negative."

So what happens when a customer is Tweeting something negative about a restaurant as they're dining in it? In the case of one local diner, it can get you kicked out.

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Photo by Troy Fields
Down House don't take no Twitter guff.
Allison Matsu was having drinks at Down House on Sunday night when she posted a Tweet, since deleted, wherein she called a bartender a "twerp" for quoting Bobby Heugel -- the owner of Anvil Bar & Refuge -- and appended her statement with the hashtag #jackass #jackoff.

Matsu has achieved mild, local notoriety for her late-night Tweets, even recently winning a Houston Press Web Award for that very activity. Down House, for its part, has achieved a reputation in the short time that it's been open for having capricious service. The two collided in a Twitter-fueled spectacle that resulted in general manager Forrest DeSpain calling the bar, speaking shortly with Matsu, and asking her to be ejected from his establishment.

"She called him a twerp," DeSpain said by phone yesterday afternoon. DeSpain runs the Twitter account for Down House and was agitated that someone would bully his bartender, as he saw it, and took action despite not being at the restaurant that night. "I immediately called up here and talked to her for a few minutes and asked her if she had any kinder words." She didn't, DeSpain said, so he asked her to leave.

Matsu responded by posting a series of Tweets, most of them in the same vein: "Left @DownHouseHTX in tears after GM called up & asked the bartender to hand me the phone. He proceeded to curse a me & ask me to leave. Wow."

Asked to comment on the story yesterday, Matsu said she wouldn't be available until sometime today. If we get in touch with her, we'll update this story. [Edit: Click to the third page to see Matsu's full response.] However, she did post an update yesterday: "No surprise that @DownHouseHTX blocked and unfollowed me. I will NEVER return to that place as long as Forrest still works there."

Although it's far from the first time that a patron has been asked to leave for disruptive behavior, the incident on Sunday night marks one of the first times that a diner has been asked to leave for being disruptive online.

The incident also raises the question: Which group of people is more important to a restaurant? The diners who are physically present to witness another patron's disruptive behavior? Or the masses of potential diners who are virtual witnesses to that behavior on social media?

Both.


Location Info

Down House

1801 Yale, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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420 comments
Sdicap123
Sdicap123

I sat at the down house bar and listened to the bartenders make fun of every customer that walked away. Wonder what the manager would think about that?

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Laineybgs
Laineybgs

people should stand by their decisions to say/write things and not openly lie about others. I would never follow someone who couldn't stand up for what they've said or done or apologize for something they wish they hadn't.

Laineybgs
Laineybgs

sometimes I long for the times before cell phones and social media

Twatterati
Twatterati

Am I the only one who picked up on the fact that this Allison girl was obviously dissing the bartender for his name dropping and his quoting Bobby like a sycophant?

But then she changed her story to claim that the bartender was saying bad things about Bobby to deal with the shit-storm that she stirred up.

Please tell me some other intelligent person out there has picked up on this...

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Scott218
Scott218

She's the Rebecca Black of Twitter

iamaverb
iamaverb

If she comes into my business and disses me and calls me names, she's out!

Ash Nallawalla
Ash Nallawalla

Bottom line: the reputation damage is done. I may never visit Houston in my life but if I lived there, I probably would avoid the restaurant.

Guest
Guest

How about this customers?  Don't decide you know how to run a restaurant or a store, and don't eavesdrop and comment on employee conversations.  If you worked there, you'd probably have something to say too.  But you don't so you take your role as "customer" and put on your judge-hat and then get mad when the actual PEOPLE who are unfortunately working "customer service" act like PEOPLE and not customer-service robots.  Guess what.  We all hate you exactly for this.  We are people, we have feelings and thoughts.  You guys are the ones taking those and instead of ignoring them like any decent person would do, you hide behind the "paying customer" curtain and do everything in your power to make sure everyone knows how upset you are with this or that company.  All because you couldn't keep to yourself, and butt out of a conversation that never involved you in the first place.

Jared Davis
Jared Davis

I gotta say, I do not live in Houston, never been to this restaurant in question, and do not care.....but, this comment forum is freaking GREAT! It's like watching good reality tv! As far as my opinion goes, it sounds like all who involved have some pretty thin skin. The bartender should have kept personal conversation in the back where paying customers could not hear it. This Allison woman should have just told the bartender that she didn't appreciate him being a schmuck. The GM should have kept his ass in bed and trusted his employees to handle such a tiny little problem.....it's called delegating and empowerment. Whole thing is still really funny....retarded as hell, but hilarious!

Chris Cusack
Chris Cusack

I hope all this is now considered irrelevant, but I do have one question:

Is there a difference between stating your opinion and calling someone names? I'm genuinely interested in hearing what people have to say on that question.

Also, I went ahead and reposted my response to all this. I foolishly took it down in the hopes that it would end all this, but obviously it didn't work. 

For your review: http://ow.ly/680ps

Jack Murray
Jack Murray

"All the other kids are doing it" is no more effective as an adult response to a situation like this than it is as a three year old.  Social media is great but when you are in the real world, drop it for a bit!  And don't freak about other people's conversations.  Seriously.

TMC
TMC

I'm disappointed that Chris Cusack deleted his response. I really wanted to read it. Anyone know why he did it?

Oldboots
Oldboots

F the Down House.  I'll spit towards its door every time I pass it by.

Dsmith
Dsmith

Some new information has come to light from a source at the new Christian's Tailgate in the Heights. Seems that this was all pre-arranged between the Tweeter, DownHouse and Anvil as a way to drum up publicity!

johnny cheesedaug
johnny cheesedaug

Who cares what she thinks anyway?  Twitter is stupid and it would make more sense to simply block cell phones so that other diners and dinner companions wouldn't have to put up with these attentionwhores that want to talk/text instead of enjoy their meal. 

Also agree with the above of if you post it, at least have the guff to stand by it and not leave "in tears", taking a break from crying to post an update.  The good thing about the internet and twitter is that it only takes a mild spoofing MITM attack to hijack your account and post all sorts of insane things about the pH of your vag and such, which is equally useful information.

Lensy Ruffer
Lensy Ruffer

What I got from this whole ordeal: everyone wants you to 'be honest' until you tell them how much they or something about them sucks.

Wastrel Way
Wastrel Way

I don't know these people, and now I don't want to.

Lexi
Lexi

What I find off is if you read the owner's response to what happened he has a screen shot of the tweet and I can see some justification if she @ mentioned Down House but she didn't. So does that mean the GM was trolling for people mentioning the establishment, saw something negative and decided, "Hey I don't want her here any more?"  

Also he claims that the bartender is owed an apology which I am sure is something that will have to be done face to face of she felt like like she needed to at all. If that's the case then I think the GM needs to apologize to her face to face and not have his boss do it through a statement. 

I do believe that the private establishment has a right to refuse service to anyone but you better bet if it was me getting kicked out over calling someone a twerp then the establishment would need a court order to get me to pay that bill. 

Cindy
Cindy

Sooo....apparently she's now been banned from Anvil too. By Bobby Heugel himself. http://twitter.com/#!/Bobby_He...I don't know much about Allison's persona IRL or online, but it seems like we're definitely not seeing something here if the third party involved is getting to the point of banning her too.

Enoughalready
Enoughalready

I'm so shocked that this is a *huge* deal, however, whether her message was agreed with or not, it should've been handled better by the GM. Yes, she could've minded her own business and *not* tried to defend Bobby, but yelling & kicking her out based on one tweet...really? People do this *all* the time. Heck, Katharine, the writer of this story, knows how pissed foodie folks can get if you don't publicly worship their food or ego. The sad part about social media in general, is that it allows people to be cruel and hurtful without considering the consequences. I don't agree with how she chose to comment on the employee, but goodness, this whole "foodie mob mentality" against one person is quite silly and plain old mean. How many times have you posted something critical regarding a celebrity, a government official, a businessman, whoever on social media? The difference? They had better things to do than to call and insult you. Put this thing to bed. & BTW, as PR gal, the more you call attention to this, the more media attention *she'll* get. I wouldn't be surprised if a nat'l morning show contacted her. Let it go & get back to eatin'...sheesh.

Sharkbait
Sharkbait

This shit needs to die already. At first it was amusing until now. National news? Really? There are better things to talk about.

SirRon
SirRon

Let he who hasn't caused much grief thanks to late nights blowing coke and getting wasted cast the first stone.

Nowhere's comment may be deleted, but I'll ALWAYS have this rant thanks for Disqus' email responses feature. Thanks internets!

SirRon
SirRon

Duderati, the twitter news cycle is like 20 minutes. No one remembers the incident anymore.

Laineybgs
Laineybgs

I've been to Down House many times and had nothing but wonderful experiences there.

Houstoniac
Houstoniac

Why would we need to avoid the restuarant? Despite what the actions of certain Tweeterers would lead you to believe, most of us have the manners needed to function in public and not get thrown out of restaurants.

Ali
Ali

When a person shells out their hard-earned money to be served, they expect good service. If you can't give it to them, or you can't be professional, then you have no business being in a service industry. 

brd from New York State
brd from New York State

Well, whether you're  management, or employee you do have to watch what you say in front of customers. Things can be misunderstood and then be totally blown out of proportion. 

I just learned about the incident today on Yahoo news and it happened what 3 days ago or more. Glad I live in NY. What I hate is the filthy name calling on here. If it had been one of the other sites I go on the guilty party would have been banded from ever posting there again.

Chris Cusack
Chris Cusack

An effort to move on. Didn't work. I reposted it.

Guest
Guest

will you tweet about it afterward? because we can't wait to read about it. #jackoff

winelush
winelush

Don't start trying to make a messy gossip session, you obviously aren't on twitter or don't know the parties involved, otherwise you'd know that's definitely not the case.  Don't speculate and drag another bar into this.

brd from New York State
brd from New York State

some people have cell phones with them for the simple reason is if  they are needed in an emergency. say if the baby sitter calls and tells them one of their kids is  sick or hurt. I carry mine with me all the time.

 I have a great grand daughter that was born this March and she has a hole in her heart. I dread the call from my daughter telling me the little one has to have immediate surgery.

When I go to the restaurant I ask to speak to the manager. I then explain to him/her the situation and if they have a problem with my cell phone on. I get tol,d no they don't have a problem with it. I always sit in a booth enough away from the other patrons for so as not to bother them.

What I hate is when you go into a bar/restaurant and see every TV in the place with sports on them.   Mostly it's football or baseball.And the volume is up along with the patrons mouths talking loudly. 

 Now me, I'm a hockey fan. They will not put on a hockey game. Not even for my birthday.

I also find it vulgar to label someone as an attentionw...... 

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I realize you're all wading into this very late, but she had been Tweeting about Down House all evening. Pay attention.

scott whitt
scott whitt

great point. She never mentioned the bar yet the GM called the bar anyway "knowing" she was there. Either he was fishing or Allison is known enough that someone sent him a message and he was laying in wait. It just seems strange or paranoid or I'm just real sleepy for staying up late and reading all these comments.

thisissilly
thisissilly

Get back to eatin'??? Have you seen a picture of her... I think she eats too much

Enoughalready
Enoughalready

Oh, & Allison, just to be safe, I wouldn't like, respond to or comment anymore here. Not a best look for you. Just don't say anything. In the end, it'll work out better for *you* that way.

brd from New York State
brd from New York State

glad to see you back. I wrote a response to your first post. hope you read it and don't take offense. here in NY we get things a day or two late when it comes to the news.

Dsmith
Dsmith

This wasn't via Twitter. It was in-person. Actual human contact. Imagine that. I had a one-hour conversation about this last evening with a manager at Christian's. The whole episode is a pre-arranged conspiracy – all for the publicity of three entities.

Laineybgs
Laineybgs

this had nothing to do with social media. if you had an emergency phone call I don't think there is a a restaurant out there who would stop you from taking the call. using your great grand daughter as a sympathy card is not very admirable.

Lexi
Lexi

I did pay attention and am probably one of few who have actually read the entire article. I am also probably one of few who read what the owner had to say and if you looked at his screen shot she never @ mentioned the bar...something that would have directly featured the bar and directly send that tweet to them. She may have been talking about it all day but when it came to the actual tweet she never @ mentioned them so you have to wonder if the GM went looking for bad things to start with.

Also I know it wasn't your intention but plea keep your snarky tone reserved for your friends and family. I am simply a commenter expressing an opinion, not a student you need to yell "pay attention " to.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I realize you're all wading into this very late, but she had been Tweeting about Down House all evening. Pay attention.

Enoughalready
Enoughalready

really, how can you *not* excuse *her* comment about the worker and be ok with your statement? c'mon houston, aren't we better than *this*? ^^^^

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I am going to delete any further comments in this thread, as well as moderate your previous defamatory comments. Stop now.

winelush
winelush

Okay, so you are stating the Manager of Christian's Tailgate Heights had a conversation with you, publicly stating they knew it was a conspiracy.  I'm just clarifying this, you weren't speculating or just trying to be inspector detectors.  Because that statement you are making is very explosive and you could very well get all four (now four) people involved in some serious problems, be careful of what you say, even though you posted anonymously, they can still find out who you really are. 

So, are you standing by what you are stating the Manager of Christians Tailgate has said?

Annie Mouse
Annie Mouse

But that really isn't relevant to this situation, either, not to be argumentative or discount your point. She wasn't leaving a poor review, she was directly mocking an employee. Looking at the screenshot of the actual tweet, it wasn't a reprimand on the bartender's professionalism. It was making fun of him. 

Lexi
Lexi

You also have to wonder if this also all went down because it happened in real time. If I go to a review website were many other people have posted and say something bad about the bar/employees because I disliked the service or professionalism, am I going to get an email saying that I am never allowed back in? What about the other people who offer bad reviews? 

Annie Mouse
Annie Mouse

So now monitoring your business's mentions on the internet is disreputable? Sounds more like a smart move, to me. Being aware of what's being said about your business is nothing new. This is quite possibly the least relevant condemnation that could be used against Down House. But I guess when you don't have a leg to stand on when defending your buddy, you go for what you can grab.

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