How A Google Review Policy Led To Threats Against A Restaurant Chain Owner

Tio Taco and Tequila Bar in Edison, New Jersey is going viral — and not because of their fajitas and margaritas. The management instated a policy that threatened the termination of any employee who couldn't get enough 5-star Google reviews, and now they are getting a taste of cancel culture.

A server at the Edison restaurant posted a picture of the policy set to start in February requiring all front-of-house employees to get a minimum of five 5-star Google reviews if they wanted to keep their job (via Insider). The original Reddit post, which moderators have since removed, shows the policy stating that the new requirement is promoting healthy competition with incentives like "free meals" and one "clothing item from the merch cage." One Redditor commented, "What if everyone here just left a review that 'server asked me to leave a review and that's tacky AF.' Sooo, one-star review." That was one of the mildest reviews the restaurant received, and the backlash on social media and review platforms escalated from there.

Andrea Bonfiglio, the chief marketing officer of Triple T Hospitality Group, which oversees Tio Taco and Tequila Bar, along with nine other restaurants, said that all of their locations were "bombarded" with negative reviews after the post went viral. She and her family also received massive amounts of hate mail and threats against their safety.

How did Tio Taco and Tequila Bar handle the severe backlash?

Andrea Bonfiglio and other Triple T Hospitality Group owners that manage Tio Taco and Tequila Bar said they were completely unaware of the Google review quota policy put in place by a "rogue" manager at their Edison location (per Yahoo! News). Once they saw the post, they removed the policy, informed employees that they wouldn't be held to the quota, and fired the general manager and assistant manager at the location. Unfortunately, the damage was already done.

The posted policy requiring employees to get at least five 5-star Google reviews per month to maintain employment was not well received by the internet. The viral Reddit post that garnered 1,700 comments has now been removed, and the taco bar's Yelp page is being monitored after being tagged with an "unusual activity alert." Most followers who weighed in on the issue voiced their frustration with unrealistic expectations set by managers to gain reviews that were coaxed instead of earned. Despite Bonfiglio stating that the management group did not instate the policy and agree that it is "insane," very few comments mention the violent backlash experienced by the owner and her family.

Google reviews rate Tio Taco and Tequila Bar with 4.4 stars, and almost every review, whether it's positive or negative, seems to be answered by the owner. Google must have done a little housekeeping of its own, as there are no longer reviews mentioning the restaurant's defunct policy.