A pair of friends have come under fire after asking a restaurant owner if they could “try out” his meals in exchange for glowing social media posts.
Elle Groves and her friend Annie Knight run a foodie page called Two Teaspoons on Instagram where they review restaurants and cafes across Melbourne and Brisbane.
The “influencers” – who have a combined 10,000 followers – approached the restaurant asking if they were interested in doing a “collab” with them in return for “stories and a post”.
For more Lifestyle related news and videos check out Lifestyle >>
However, the social media request fell on deaf ears, with the owner accusing the pair of trying to get free meals from small businesses battling through the coronavirus crisis.
“Apologies for the delay… I’ve been grappling with how much rage to demonstrate/throw in your direction,” the owner wrote in a strongly-worded response.
“I’ve decided to take the high road and explain a few things to you in the hope that you learn something and become a better person.
“Reaching out blind to a venue you know nothing about looking for free stuff is a s***ty enough thing to do at the best of times. But it’s even worse when COVID is still very much a thing, affecting small businesses like us devastatingly for two years now.”
The owner then detailed his struggles of how he desperately tried to keep his restaurant afloat.
For more engaging lifestyle content visit 7Life on Facebook
“Reaching out blind to a venue you know nothing about might also just trigger the owner, like me,” he said.
“I have had to take a job at another venue on days off just so I can continue to pay staff properly and still be able to pay rent.”
He said his restaurant is “still trying to catch up from devastating losses and stresses” over the past two years.
The message exchange was re-shared on Instagram by Australian restaurant critic John Lethlean who called out the bloggers for attempting to exchange pictures for complimentary food under the hashtag #couscousforcomment.
Speaking to 7Lifestyle, Elle says: “We have never asked companies for free food, it is always left open to them to what they want to offer.
“We have dined at 99 per cent of restaurants featured on our page paying full price,” she explains.
“We only wanted to offer this professional exchange based off the amazing feedback we received from cafes and restaurants that have approached us in the past.
“Out of our 207 featured posts, only seven of them have been a collab of either a small discount, or a free meal. Everything else has been paid for in full.”
However, her offer didn’t go down well after she received a blunt response from the restaurant owner.
“The response from the owner was really confronting for us,” she says.
“We really appreciated his perspective and we were very apologetic for making him feel this way. The owner was well within his right to share his perspective on the pandemic and we appreciated that he did.
“We understand how difficult COVID has been for many businesses and this was supposed to be an act to help out businesses rather than make them feel upset.”
After their private messages were shared publicly, Elle says they have been bombarded with “hateful, nasty” remarks about their “personalities, looks and even death threats”.
Elle – who dines out every week at her own expense – says it was never their intention to offend anyone.
“Our intentions are pure and we always have the businesses and restaurant owners’ best interest at heart,” she says.
“We love food and the experiences it brings. We never wanted to hurt anyone or make anyone feel upset or angry.”