Should Chefs’ Private Behavior Affect Their Restaurants’ Public Images?

No cell phones allowed? Photo: Santoros/Facebook

Tina Santoro Asmar runs a well-loved trattoria outside of Boston. Currently, she's less popular at her (ex-)gym Planet Fitness, where she was banned over the weekend after taking a call while on the elliptical. The gym says she's a habitual offender; Asmar claims she'll accept the ban but that she's just looking for an apology — oh, and that she was taking a call from her doctor. Moving past the he-said-she-said of this whole thing, let's get to the interesting part: Public backlash is escalating, and now her popular trattoria — once the recipient of Yelp accolades like "the best Italian sub you will ever have!" — is getting slammed, too. Fair or unfair?

Yelp is one of the least reliable restaurant-review sources, but it's nevertheless one public way to measure a restaurant's reputation. One Emily Post type has already rung in: "Your lack of rule following assures me that I will never set foot inside your restaurant."

The ire has resonated beyond Yelp: Another commenter at Maine's Bangor Daily News, which found the story, sniffs: "Her restaurant is not worth going back to, either." Meanwhile, her own hometown paper, the Boston Herald, has decided to conduct a poll about Asmar's bad behavior, and even far-flung New Yorkers have chimed in on the restaurant's (questionably spelled) Santoro's Sicillian Trattoria Facebook page to ask: "Hey, what's your cell phone policy? Oh and there's only one 'L' in Sicilian."

So should her restaurant suffer owing to her poor gym etiquette? Or will her stint as cheap fodder for the New York Daily News actually drive more business? Maybe she can launch a carb-heavy anti-fitness menu.

Tina Santoro Asmar Claims Planet Fitness Revoked Her Membership For Talking On Her Cell Phone [HuffPo]
Mass. woman gets booted from gym for violating no cell phone policy [NYDN]
Santoros Sicilian Trattoria [Yelp]
Santoro's Sicillian Trattoria [Facebook]
Related: Maybe Yelp Isn’t So Powerful After All?