Tre Pierre, of Atlanta, asked followers to "blow up" his creole restaurant during a slow month.
The request backfired spectacularly — he was barraged by bad food reviews and allegations of business malpractice.
Pierre told Insider a revamp is in the works, calling the viral saga "the greatest thing that could have happened."
On September 9, the Atlanta-based restaurateur Tre Pierre posted on X, formerly Twitter, beseeching people to support his fledgling restaurant, New Orleans Creole Cuisine.
"Hey Twitter can you blow up my restaurant," Pierre, 30, wrote to his 22,400 followers, alongside a promo video of the restaurant's tropically-hued cocktails and delectable seafood dishes set to smooth sax music. "It's been slow af this month I need a big push can y'all retweet this post."
The video quickly blew up to the tune of more than 1 million views in 24 hours and has today amassed more than 38.2 million views.
—Tre Pistol (@iTrePierre) September 9, 2023
But in addition to messages of support, including calls for TikTok food review extraordinaire Keith Lee to shine a light on New Orleans Creole Cuisine, Pierre was also deluged by an array of negative comments — including serious accusations against his business.
The story made its way to TikTok, where the creator @bodacious_bobo recapped the saga for 1.8 million viewers last week. She shared how one Yelp reviewer complained of undercooked chicken she described as "still clucking," and pointed to another review alleging a staffer had once flashed a gun at a patron.
When reached, Pierre told Insider the gun review wasn't true and called it "trolling." But he did acknowledge the chicken situation. "When that happened, he got fired," Pierre said of the chef at the time. "I hate bloody chicken with a passion."
While most bad reviews pertained to the food and environment, Pierre is also accused of not paying staff
Amid the criticisms of bad food and service, some former staff members alleged that the restaurant failed to pay them.
Among them is twenty-six-year-old Kayla McPhaul, who worked at New Orleans Creole Cuisine as a hostess and waitress in late 2022. She took to X to say that Pierre owed her roughly $1,400 at one point. The lack of funds resulted in her being unable to pay rent and nearly getting evicted, she told Insider. She also shared a text exchange with Pierre that she deemed unprofessional.
After multiple paychecks from the restaurant bounced, McPhaul made a complaint with local police, seen by Insider. She was ultimately paid $1,100 — but says she's still owed $351.
"It's not about the money, it's moreso about the principal," she said. "It felt like they were making me seem like I was begging for money I earned."
In response to McPhaul's accusations, Pierre told Insider that they are currently "paid up," adding he'd be "glad" to look into the matter further but that another staffer is in charge of HR issues.
—ShopJanesRoses.com (@KayTheHippy) September 11, 2023
'He's dodged taking any kind of accountability,' said a customer
The financial issues extended to patrons.
Food blogger Brianna Ramsey dined at New Orleans Creole Cuisine in June with a group of friends. Her meal was "palatable," she told Insider. "They gave me tartar sauce for my wings, which I was not happy about."
After paying for her individual tab, the waitress informed the party they would actually have to pay on one bill. Ramsey reluctantly agreed, sending money to a friend and double-paying for her meal, but said she never got her initial payment back from the restaurant. She then disputed the charge with her bank.
"New Orleans Creole Cuisine did not initiate a refund with me, but my bank was able to give me my funds back due to the circumstances," Ramsey said, adding of Pierre: "He has not apologized. He's dodged taking any kind of accountability."
Pierre attributed the situation to "misinformation" on Ramsey's part, and claimed her pending transaction had been voided and thus wouldn't necessitate a refund. But he said he's "more than happy" to dig in further, and if proven wrong, he'd be "more than happy to take that L and fix it."
Pierre considers the saga 'the greatest thing that could have happened' for his business
New Orleans Creole Cuisine is jointly owned by Pierre and his two siblings, though he serves as "the head," he said, with his mother — an OBGYN and nurse practitioner to whom he credits his businesss acumen — helping to mentor them.
Pierre said the restaurant's problems mostly boil down to its downtown location near the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which makes parking a nightmare. He said he's also been having trouble with staffing in a post-COVID environment.
—Tre Pistol (@iTrePierre) September 19, 2023
"When people are just so used to having government assistance and things like that, it leads to businesses with little to no one to pick," he said. "It's like a child where you have to keep telling 'em over and over again."
Today, according to the restauranteur, the business is in the midst of a so-called "revamp," which includes getting rid of the entire front-of-house and hiring an entire new staff of 12, including two new managers. There's also a new menu — and Pierre plans to document the revamp in a docuseries.
Reflecting on the past two weeks, Pierre said the viral avalanche has been both "flattering" (given it unexpectedly brought so many eyeballs to his business) and "humbling." He's acknowledged much of the criticism on X, conceding that customer service is a "hell of a business."
"If that's the reason I'm slow, I want to know," he told Insider of the feedback. "This is the push that I needed to be where I knew my restaurant needed to be."
Despite a social media moment gone awry, Pierre said he doesn't regret posting that fateful day.
"We know what areas to fill in," he said, "so that was kind of the greatest thing that could have happened for us."
Read the original article on Insider