Update#1- 20 May: The Phoenix Business Journal is reporting that Amy’s Baking Company has canceled its planned Tuesday press conference. It also reports that Rose+Moser+Allyn Public & Online Relations, is no longer working with them. The reason for the cancellation was due to online bullying. No word why the PR firm no longer works for them.
Source:Amy’s Baking Company Dumped By New PR Firm, Press Conference Canceled Over Threats(20 May 2013.bizjournals.com)
Update#2-20 May: The Phoenix Business Journal reports that lawyers for Fox and the Kitchen Nightmares production company threatened legal action. The letter reminds them of their contractual obligations and their conduct exposes them to $100,000 in liquidated damages. You can view the letter here. Jason Rose explains the “there were differences on public relations strategies” that led to the split.
Source:Jason Rose Explains Split With Amy’s Baking Company(20 May 2013,bizjournals.com)
It is over a week since Kitchen Nightmares(KN) ended its season with Amy’s Baking Company, and it is still reverberating around the web. Yelp has seen massive amounts of reviews though most of them were not actual restaurant reviews. Many will be deleted since that violates Yelp’s Terms of Service. Comments on Yelp and other places drove Amy and Samy crazy. They used Facebook to respond and not in a kind way. Those posts have been deleted and now claim they were hacked. And they now have hired a public relations firm, Rose + Moser + Allyn Public and Online Relations to handle future communications. The damage has been done and many see their angry responses as doing more harm than good, perhaps cementing forever the image of them being crazy and flying off the handle at any criticism.
Worse it appears they will likely face an investigation by over the tips issue. According to KTAR, it is a violation of Arizona law to keep tips from servers. Despite their claim on Facebook, Samy admitted on camera he does keep tips and never shares it with servers. Now they say they do not “confiscate” tips from servers. That is an artful dodge but that is not the accusation. The accusation is (and confirmed by Samy) that do not get tips left by customers. That might be construed as possible theft if the tips are considered property of the server under Arizona law. With Samy’s admission on camera and sworn affidavits from ex-employees, Amy’s Baking Company could be hit with fines and other sanctions.
That might be just the beginning. Owing to her past criminal conviction of fraud (using someone else’s social security number to obtain a line of credit), tax authorities might check her books to make sure everything has been correctly reported. Then there is the real possibility of civil lawsuits looming over workplace harassment. Considering what was shown and what has been reported, a lawyer could make a real field day here by seeking damages.
Then there are questions as to whether she actually bakes those wonderful pastries we saw on KN. We never saw her cook any pastries and there was a Facebook entry, allegedly from Amy, that seemed to confirm the allegation. No doubt enterprising reporters will track down various bakeries in the area or beyond to see if she buys from them and resells at her store. She may use an alias in purchasing them (or even a third party) to conduct the transactions. In due course we will learn the truth. It is odd that an experienced baker would not know the difference between cooked and uncooked pizza dough as evidenced on the show.
What happened is being touted by public relations experts on how not to deal with bad publicity. Instead of getting in front of the story, they threw more gasoline on the fire rather than cooling water. And with so much negative publicity, even the best public relations expert is going to be of little help. Most predict that Amy’s Baking Company will close at some point because customers will be scarce and even Samy cannot pour money indefinitely into the restaurant to keep it afloat. Most likely they will sell the restaurant and move away no doubt cursing Scottsdale, the entire state of Arizona, and Gordon Ramsay on their way out.
Since writing this, I learned that Amy’s Baking Company is re-opening on Tuesday, 21 May. According to their Facebook page, some proceeds from reopening night“will benefit a charity organized to bring awareness to cyber bullying.” The press release also states: “The owners will likely be holding a press conference before the Grand Re-Opening and answer falsehoods depicted on a reality television show, including assertions that the restaurant confiscates tips from servers.” Again note they hedging in the above statement. It says “likely will be holding” which is not the same as will be holding. Also one wonders if this will be a real press conference or simply a venue for them to repeat their responses and accusations they have already made.
Again note the word “confiscates” is being used. Nice try but no one will believe that spin.
1. Israeli Restaurateur Goes Viral With Online Meltdown(18 May 2013,The Jerusalem Post)
2. Amy’s Baking Company Reopening On Tuesday With Sold Out Event(16 May 2013,The Huffington Post)
3. Dept. Of Labor: Amy’s Baking Company May Be In Violation Of Law(16 May 2013,KTAR)
4. Amy’s Baking Company: A Real-Life Kitchen Nightmare(14 May 2013, The Daily Beast)