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No apologies: Salmon Arm restaurateur defends staff after negative criticism shared online

Scorching temperatures resulted in unusually busy dinner rush at Hanoi 36
Hanoi 36 chef and owner Michael Vu was kept on his toes during the recent heat wave as people chose to dine out. (File photo)

While Michael Vu can take the heat, he isn’t willing to let his employees get flamed.

On the morning of Thursday, June 30, the Hanoi 36 chef and owner knew it was going to be a busy day. With another scorcher (40 C) in the forecast, the Salmon Arm restaurateur posted a polite request on the Hanoi 36 Facebook page, that customers please be patient with staff, “as it’s a very hot day and they’re trying their best!”

Not everyone got the message.

Sure enough, like the evening before, the heat once again brought diners out in droves. In the span of two-and-a-half hours, Vu and his staff served about 100 customers.

“For the two hottest days of the year, we were absolutely full,” said Vu. “We had line-ups outside the door, the phone was ringing non-stop.”

Vu said at one point, the restaurant’s online ordering system was turned off to focus on in-house diners.

During the June 30 rush, a group of seven people showed up, without reservations, for dinner. Vu said they were seated and it was explained, in advance, that with large groups there is an automatic gratuity added to the bill.

After their meals, Vu said members of the group disputed having to pay the gratuity as they were dissatisfied with their service.

“They said the food was great but the service was terrible,” said Vu.

Later that evening, Vu learned someone from the group had shared their criticisms in a negative review on the internet.

While he recognized mistakes were made, Vu couldn’t let his young servers, both working their first jobs, take the heat. That night he once again took to the Facebook page, this time to defend his staff.

Vu said he and his wife planned to have a staff meeting after the shift to discuss what had happened with the large group. But when he looked at his servers’ exhuasted, hungry faces, he thought better of it, and instead did the Facebook post.

“I said, ‘Guys come here. Before I make this post, I’m going to read it to you, because I want you to know that no matter what mistakes were made, I’m very proud of you and you should be proud of yourself,’” said Vu.

“I took that route because it’s more important to instill confidence in young people, working people, so that they can continue to try. And they know mistakes were made… But there should be somebody to tell them it’s OK.”

Hundreds have since responded to Vu’s impassioned post, sharing their love and support.

Vu stressed this was not about self-promotion, but about doing what’s right.

“As a businessman, I understand we do have a reputation to uphold,” said Vu. “If we did apologize for something that was wrong, then things like that would just manifest, and you would always get somebody feeling that, no matter what they do, they’re always correct. It is not my job to correct them, but it is my job to defend the working people.”

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