So, first I have to admit that I stole the name of this blog post from Ricky‘s post about the same thing, just because I think it’s the perfect name. Now that that’s out there, let me start the story…
Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve heard about Amy’s Baking Company. They are this local Scottsdale, AZ restaurant that got featured on a recent episode of the show Kitchen Nightmares featuring chef Gordon Ramsay. Basically, in the episode, the couple that owns Amy’s, Amy herself and her husband Samy, went pretty crazy, at least from how it was portrayed on the show. They got super defensive and plain out mean when people (including Gordon) complained about the food. It turned into this whole fiasco where staff got fired, Gordon walked out, and Amy and Samy were pretty much left steaming. THEN the Internet got ahold of it. Yelp, Reddit, and Facebook exploded with people criticizing Amy and Samy and what seemed to be them retaliating (they now claim they were hacked, but who believes that?).
I first heard about this a few days ago, pretty much the day it became viral. I woke up to see a post on Facebook from a friend of mine, Dennis, about it. I didn’t think too much of it, just because it’s a local business and people go crazy on Facebook all the time, right? And then I started to see more people posting about it. And more and more. Wait, this is on BuzzFeed? That’s when I realized it was now national news. This was a big deal.
Ricky and I started following the news about it, just because it was such a circus. Everyone was talking about it, and there was more and more news coming. We drove by Amy’s just to see it (we never knew it was there before) and they were closed. For good? Temporarily? Who knew? The fake Facebook and Twitter pages started popping up. And then, a press release. Amy’s hired a local PR firm and was having a grand re-opening… Tuesday (today) with a press conference beforehand. Sign us up! We emailed the contact about reservations within minutes of seeing the press release. The next day, we got confirmation – we had reservations! In the meantime, more news… it just kept coming…
“Amy’s Baking Company Hosts Job Fair to Replace Wait Staff”
“Amy’s Baking Company Dumped by New PR Firm”
“Amy’s Baking Company Cancels Press Conference Under Lawsuit Threat”
Where does it end? A local radio station host, Monti Carlo, did an interview with Amy and Sami to find out their side of the story. She asked the questions everyone wanted answers to, but still couldn’t satisfy people. According to her Facebook page, even she is now getting threats from people because she was too nice and didn’t completely tear them down.
So Ricky, Dennis, Dana, and I went in tonight with an open mind. What would happen? We figured one of two things: either a complete and total circus, or just another boring dinner. It turned out to be the latter… just another boring dinner. And actually, a good one at that.
The four of us that went are all pretty active on social media and weren’t about to let this opportunity pass us by. It turned into more than we bargained for… I found out even before we went in that Phoenix New Times was passing along my tweets as they happened. I earned 60 new followers tonight (I’ll let you know how many are gone by morning)! The funny thing was, the more I tweeted, the more replies I got on Twitter from people that were convinced I was a plant by Amy and Samy and/or the PR firm. I can’t tell you how much this cracks me up. Just because what I was saying was positive, it couldn’t possibly be real, right? I mean, people that live all across the country and have never even heard of Scottsdale much less been to Amy’s MUST be right about them because I mean, come on, it WAS ON KITCHEN NIGHTMARES! I mean, it was on TV… it has to be true!
So here’s the scoop… to sum up our night, it was honestly great. I think all of us were a bit apprehensive, but curious (which is the answer to all of you that want to know exactly why we got the reservation in the first place). The wait staff was nervous, but prepared, and they did a good job. The food was different, but really good. Amy and Samy really do have some unique combinations on their menu, but that’s a good thing to me. I liked the fig and prosciutto pizza. It was sweet and salty, which to me is a great combination. Samy was obviously working the crowd, and while Ricky was told by someone we think was one of their PR people that “they don’t like live blogging”, Samy also told us that we could take pictures and tweet about it, while also indicating they really didn’t want any haters. Which we weren’t there to be… we were curious and honest local residents, just looking to see what Amy’s Baking Company had in store for us. We legitimately enjoyed all the food, as well as the service. There was no drama. Nothing was sent back, because it didn’t need to be. It tasted good to us (we even brought home leftovers).
Throughout the night, as I was live tweeting my experience, I got a LOT of replies on Twitter, and since I knew I would be blogging about it, I left a few questions to answer here on the blog (more room than just 140 characters). So here they are:
What’s your take on the whole tip situation?
One of the biggest complaints about Amy’s after the Kitchen Nightmares episode aired was that Samy was taking the wait staff’s tips. And no, I don’t think this is right. But after watching both the episode of the show as well as Monti’s interview with them, I think that the people we see on the show as “wait staff” were actually hired by Amy’s as “food runners” and paid as normal employees instead of servers. What I don’t think a lot of people know is that servers actually earn less money than normal employees because of their tips. The minimum wage for servers is much less than the minimum wage for normal employees because they are expected to receive tips. So yes, while they were not getting tips, according to Samy and Amy, they were getting paid as normal employees. I’ve heard them say in interviews that Samy was actually the one taking orders pretty much all the time, so he was actually the server and the other employees were just “food runners”. Is this right? I don’t know. But it makes sense to me. If the employees were making $8-14 an hour as Amy and Samy say, that’s not bad for a part-time employee that’s not a server. And yes, in the Kitchen Nightmares episode, one of the staff did take Gordon’s order. But who really knows? That was one customer, and one customer on a TV show, at that. Amy and Samy claim that they now hire their staff as actual servers, and that they make $5 an hour PLUS TIPS, which is actually pretty good for a server.
What about the desserts? Does Amy really make them?
Honestly, I don’t have an answer to this. What we saw is the same thing you saw on the TV show… desserts in the display case. We enjoyed our dinner and were so full we brought leftovers home, so we had no room for dessert.
Was I a plant that was paid by Amy’s or the PR firm?
I was not. I was simply another Internet user that saw all the hubbub, happened to live not too far from Amy’s in Scottsdale, and just wanted to see for myself. I managed to get a reservation by emailing the PR firm, the same way as they posted in their press release, went there with friends and an open mind, and tweeted honestly about my experience as it happened.
Why didn’t you send something back to see what would happen?
There was no need to. The food was good, and we had no reason to send anything back. Sorry, I am not going to lie about my food just to cause trouble. If there had been a problem with the food, I would have complained. But there wasn’t. It was just fine, as was everyone else’s at the table. And so was the service. I think this bears a mention here too… I completely disagree with all of the reviews that Amy’s is getting on Yelp and other sites from people that have NEVER BEEN THERE. To go and post a false review of a company on a legitimate review site that people use to determine where to go and to base it solely on your viewing of this company on one episode of a TV show is just plain wrong in my book. That’s not what Yelp or any other site is for, and I think that Yelp would agree with me on this one.
I think that pretty much sums it up, honestly. Now, Ricky is another story… he thinks the whole thing is staged and fake and is just an attempt to go viral that worked. But I’ll let him blog about that. Here’s my take. Yes, Amy might be a little crazy. And yes, she’s definitely defensive. Very defensive, and that is what caused most of this whole fiasco. Kitchen Nightmares came in and ran with that and turned it into… well, a nightmare. Amy and Samy had a huge meltdown on the show, and it bled over onto the Internet for all the world to see. And the Internet, as we all know, can be mean. So it was. Did they deserve it? They made some pretty huge mistakes, yeah. But are they capable of running a successful restaurant? Well, they have for six years. The future… remains to be seen.
[I’m hoping to visit Amy’s again in a few weeks after all the hullabaloo has died down, so watch for a follow-up post. Let’s see how they do when they’re not on their best behavior.]