Table for one? Dining alone on a business trip (copy)

Yelp is among the social media sites considered to be a go-to when it comes to identifying good restaurants. File

Q: We went to a brand new place a few nights ago anticipating it would be very good. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. I think they should know how bad their food is and try to pivot ASAP before the word gets out. I would hate to see the owners fail after obviously spending so much money and energy.

What should a consumer do in this situation? I support small, locally owned businesses over chains and want them to succeed. This is not something I would post online. I am just unsure as to how to help them without appearing unkind.

A: Great question! You’re exactly right that there’s not much to be gained by public shaming. Did you talk to the owners, or contact them after your visit? My sense is good business people appreciate thoughtful feedback.

But keep in mind, too, that no restaurant is at its best on day one, which is why professional critics give restaurants at least a one-month practice period. I’m not sure what kind of work you do, but imagine if your yearly performance review was based entirely on the quality of your output in your first week on the job when you’re preoccupied with learning your way around the office and meeting new people.

Posting negative impressions of a restaurant that has just opened is tantamount to the same thing, since multiple studies have shown that a restaurant’s revenue rides on its cumulative Yelp score. In other words, the standing recommendation to think carefully before posting holds doubly true during a restaurant’s first delicate days. And it’s always good practice to get in touch with management first.

In this case, if you sent a polite email outlining your concerns, I imagine the response would be very telling. If the owners were to ignore you, or dismiss your comments, I think it would be appropriate to then share your disappointing experience in an online forum.

Recipes are easy to fix, but surly personalities can doom a business — and other consumers deserve to be alerted to them.

Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.