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The Boston Globe

Business

Shirley Leung

Locating the problem: Google Maps

It hasn’t been hard to get into Ostra, Boston’s hot new restaurant, but finding it sure was.

Blame Google Maps.

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For weeks, the search engine giant has put chef Jamie Mammano’s latest creation on the corner of Charles Street and Beacon at the foot of Beacon Hill, a coveted location for sure because everyone knows where that is.

That’s where I showed up Saturday on a date night with my husband, something that happens as often as the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup when you have kids, 3 and 1.

We decided to skip the valet to save a few bucks and park at the Boston Common garage a block away. We stepped out looking for Ostra on 1 Charles St., but all we could find was the Starbucks on the corner.

My husband called the restaurant and found out that Ostra is in the Back Bay — at 1 Charles St. South . On a map, it’s the same Charles Street we were standing on, but when it crosses over into a different neighborhood it gets a new name. Ostra is on the other side of the Common.

The upshot: Not only a long frigid walk but icy and treacherous in my stilettos. We had to get back into the car. A half-hour late, unsure if our reservations were any good, I had visions of our night ending at a very unhappy meal at McDonald’s.

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We arrived seething, not only because of our circuitous route, but because we had shelled out a total of $25 in parking, even before our first bite of Mediterranean-inspired seafood.

At that moment, who is the customer supposed to be mad at — the restaurant or the Google map on my iPhone? This kind of mistake costs Ostra money. The manager comped us some food and drinks. How many other customers have they had to do this for?

Turns out, too many. Ostra itself has been on its own frustrating odyssey with Google.

Since it opened after Thanksgiving, the restaurant has been fielding calls from lost customers who Google “Ostra Boston.” What popped up was a map with Ostra pinned on Charles Street in Beacon Hill.

For a while, the restaurant brushed off the confusion because Ostra’s own Google map on its website was correct. But that’s because the restaurant entered in the right address.

When the calls kept coming, the restaurant knew its customers were right and Google was wrong.

“Shame on Google for not fact checking,” said Mark D’Alessandro, operations director for Columbus Hospitality Group, which owns Ostra along with fashionable restaurants Mistral and Sorellina.

This may seem like a trivial inconvenience for well-fed restaurant goers, but we rely on digital maps every day now. Remember the public lashing Apple got two years when its mapping software gave inaccurate directions and mismarked landmarks?

Google gets tens of thousands of correction requests a day, and a Google Maps team, using a combination of both automated and manual systems, reviews the accuracy of the submissions. Edits typically take a few days once requests are verified.

To start the process, businesses can create a listing with the tech behemoth. Three weeks ago, Ostra filled out a form, and to verify its location, Google sent the restaurant a postcard with a PIN number to be typed in to confirm the correction. The card never arrived — probably because it relied on directions from Google.

Then Ostra opted for Google’s verification by phone. For a couple of days, the restaurant waited anxiously for an automated call from the search king.

Last week Google corrected Ostra’s address in searches, but not on the map; finally, on Wednesday, the map was fixed, too.

Well, sort of.

Remember Google’s original mistake — 1 Charles St.? There are four of those in Boston. And according to Google Maps, none are at the Beacon Street corner where all this trouble started.

Shirley Leung is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at sleung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @leung.

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