A Yelp review critical of a Cambridge restaurant and its staff posted last week by a Boston University professor sparked a backlash and was denounced by a school dean.
After eating at Café ArtScience, Dirk Hackbarth, a professor at BU’s Questrom School of Business, posted a review on Yelp, criticizing two of the restaurant’s employees for their weight.
The Yelp post, which has since been deleted, criticized the restaurant and attacked the physical appearance of the restaurant’s general manager, Mark Grande, who was described as “fat guy.” It also seemed to taunt bar director Tenzin Samdo.
“Asian cool skinny dude at bar was friendly but knew he was powerless vis a vis the host — different weight class I guess though fat guy probably never heard of mma tricks etc,” Hackbarth’s post read.
The Yelp review drew wider attention when Samdo wrote about his experience on Facebook, a post that has also been deleted.
Questrom Dean Ken Freeman took to Twitter on Nov. 9 to distance the university from the professor’s actions in a statement.
“We are aware of an inappropriate Yelp review posted by a member of our faculty” Freeman posted. “It does not represent our views and values. We are extremely disappointed by this occurrence.”
Hackbarth did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Yelp review followed a series of charged interactions between Hackbarth and various staffers at the restaurant days earlier.
Café ArtScience’s director of operations Salvatore Rappo said Hackbarth called the restaurant on Nov. 4 to let them know he would be late for his reservation later that day. Grande, the manager, told him that he would be seated, but it might be a little later than the original reservation time.
According to Rappo, the professor checked with his dinner companion to see if they could make the later time and then called the restaurant back to say that they could.
The restaurant, known for its experimental cuisine and a favorite of the Kendall Square crowd, was at capacity when the professor came in, and after being seated at the bar, Hackbarth proceeded to become hostile, according to staffers. He allegedly said derogatory things to Grande and Samdo before Grande asked the man to leave.
The Yelp review appeared under the username “Dirk H.” on Nov. 8.
Hackbarth complained about the wait in his review: “Fat guy at door leaves when you enter and then tells you even with reservation the wait is one hour . . . We waited at bar for more than 1½ hours even though four (4) tables were empty throughout the wait — absolutely absurd. The fat guy doesn’t even have eyes in his fat [expletive]!”
In a second Facebook post on Nov. 10, Samdo said he had first written about the incident to raise awareness and stop harassment of those in the hospitality industry.
“There is no excuse for harassment and name calling or using profanity to any of our hospitality personnel,” Samdo wrote. “Those who have worked with me or for me all these years knows that I will always speak up for them when our guests cross the line.”
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