St. Pete diner closes, then snaps back at people who left bad reviews on Facebook

Dome Grill doesn't have to be polite anymore on social media.
The Dome Grill has been owned and operated by Michael Karamalakos and his three sons for the past 25 years. On June 10, the breakfast spot announced that it would close and the building was sold on their Facebook [DEVIN RODRIGUEZ | Times]
The Dome Grill has been owned and operated by Michael Karamalakos and his three sons for the past 25 years. On June 10, the breakfast spot announced that it would close and the building was sold on their Facebook [DEVIN RODRIGUEZ | Times]
Published June 15 2018
Updated June 15 2018

If a restaurant responds to a bad online review, it's usually with something along the lines of "we're sorry you didn't have an excellent experience. We will improve our staff service training and hope you'll give us another try."

Not this time.

The Dome Grill opened on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg in 1991, long before dealing with public, online reviews became a fact of running a restaurant.

But by the time the Greek diner closed for good on Monday, hundreds of people had left mostly positive reviews via Facebook's five-star rating system praising the pancakes and gyros. Overall the place had a 3.7 rating. Many commented they were sad to see it go.

Those weren't the reviews Kostas Karamalakos, 29, was thinking of when he realized the restaurant his father owned, and which he ran the Facebook page for, no longer had to be polite to angry customers on social media.

He was thinking about the one and two-star reviews, and the Dome had a number of those too.

Dealing with online reviews can be frustrating for owners, since anyone can post anything they want about your business. Some of them dedicate a huge amount of time responding to them politely, and lobbying to have fake ones removed. They can make or break a business.

One thing they don't usually do is respond to those angry customers they disagree with in a way that's totally unfiltered. But that's what Kostas Karamalokos did, and he told the Tampa Bay Times, "yeah, it felt good."

Using the restaurant's official Facebook account, he went back and responded to complaints going back years with what was really on his mind.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

When asked if he had any message for restaurant owners out there who might be holding their tongues, wishing they could respond candidly to customers complaining online, Kostas Karamalakos said, "Maybe someday."

The restaurant's former owner, Michael Karamalakos, 80, said that he left the online stuff to his sons and didn't bother with Facebook himself.

"This business survived for 25 years, I'm very appreciative of the support. But no more Dome Grill, we sold everything" including the building, Michael Karamalakos said. "I have a lot of compliments from the people of St. Pete. Of course there are some negative things too, and I don't know why, but you take the good with the bad." 

 
 
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