Amy’s Baking Company (ABC) has become a teaching lesson for business schools–in how not to deal with the public. And thanks to social media, the lesson has spread far and wide. Samy and Amy Bouzaglo totally underestimated the negative response generated by the episode. Many people were suspicious, like a local food critic who was asked to report on ABC. That critic had not heard much about the restaurant except for the famous Amy blowout to a local food blogger in 2010. Crazy Amy, as she is now called, went national thanks to Kitchen Nightmares (KN). As that critic dug deeper she began to realize something was indeed amiss at ABC. And what was seen on the show has been confirmed by workers and customers interviewed later. And their crude attacks on the negative postings after the show confirmed that what they saw on the show was exactly who they–the Bouzaglo’s–really are.
One thing that food critic realized is that in all the time that ABC has been open, it never generated any buzz. In a sea of restaurants in Scottsdale, ABC never distinguished itself in any way. And that is telling. With mixed reviews on Yelp and elsewhere, there was nothing really that drew you to ABC unless you were just in the area and wanted to give it a try. Sometimes you might get lucky and get an okay meal. Or get an underdone pizza with a side of nasty attitude when complained to Samy. A recent trip by a local business writer found their drinks had bugs in it. And despite subsequent replacement drinks, the bugs were still in the glasses. Samy asked them to leave after that and they went down to a more popular restaurant to finish the meal they never had at ABC. They did give the server money to go up to ABC to get a pastry, which was delicious, but their treatment at ABC confirmed what was shown (except Crazy Amy never made an appearance).
A few seasons back Gordon went to a Philadelphia restaurant run by sisters who never ran a restaurant before. The speciality was potato (in fact that was in their name) but the food was terrible. The restaurant was empty and Gordon helped them revamp the menu. He also brought in a chef consultant to help the young chef, in fact a niece of one of the sisters, and things began to improve. A food critic that had given them a terrible review gave a glowing one after the relaunch. And for a while things were going good. Then that chef left and food quality declined. Restaurant hours changed and closing early, like 8pm on a Saturday night. By summer’s end in 2010, the restaurant closed. I bring this up because there are some similarities here. Neither Amy or Samy have any previous restaurant experience. They have mixed reviews on Yelp. While local restaurants are packing them in, many tables are empty at ABC.
Their over-the-top reaction to critics made things far worse and people looking for more dirt on the couple. Which they did find out. Crazy Amy was locked up for using another persons social security number to obtain a bank line of credit. She also has other prior legal issues as well. Samy is facing deportation. The exact reason is not known but possibly due to not disclosing criminal convictions in Europe in his residency application. Questions are raised about whether ABC actually cooks those wonderful pastries. Evidence suggests they are bought elsewhere and resold by ABC. There is also a disquieting rumor that ABC is a money laundering operation.
Amy and Samy wanted to let loose about Gordon Ramsay, KN and online critics with a press conference. Lawyers for the show sent a strongly worded letter reminding them of their contractual obligations, which meant they faced huge monetary damages if they violated. I suspect that guy in the funny toque and stripped pants down in Nashville got a similar letter after letting loose to the National Inquirer. I wish they had let Crazy Amy and Samy the Hammer have their press conference. It would have been memorable. They hired a public relations firm that handles such fires but they bowed out after a few days owing to a difference in strategies. The had a quiet reopening with a security guard to keep things civil. Attendance was thin and no one reports the restaurant is packing them in. Lots of gawkers wanting to see the now infamous ABC and perhaps get a glimpse of the pair as well.
The future does not look well for ABC. Restaurants that generate negative buzz rarely thrive. And profit margins are thin for restaurants. The restaurant did finally generate a buzz but not the one wanted by Crazy Amy and Samy the Hammer. And for business schools, ABC is a case study is how not to run a business or handle major public relations crisis.
Apparently Crazy Amy did give an interview after the warning letter to Radar Online. In the interview, she said some nasty things about Ramsay. That could result in Fox suing her for breach of contract.
1. Amy’s Baking Company Kicks Us Out After We Find Flies In The Vodka (Three Times)(24 May 2013, Phoenix Business Blog)
2. Co-owner Of ‘Nightmares’ Eatery Might Be Deported(22 May 2013, Arizona Republic)
3. Amy’s Baking Company: Overcooked Reality and the Decline of Western Civility(21 May 2013 Phoenix New Times)