Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Editorial. You can read my review of the restaurant here.

Information asymmetry has benefited restaurants for a long time, particularly in touristic destinations.

According to information asymmetry, when one party of a transaction has better information than the other, it creates an imbalance in power. The restaurant knows far more about the service it provides than its customer.

For that reason we like and read reviews. The Internet has provided a medium that distributes reviews (formal and informal) at a speed that was unimaginable few years ago. Now it takes few days to spread the word that a new restaurant is "good" or "bad" according to the opinions of the first who go in and decide to write about it.

My intuition is that the turnaround cycle of some restaurants will be faster: bad reviews will overwhelm the public opinion of a restaurant, and sink it fast, unless the restaurant is capable, and willing, to correct course quickly.

Beirut Restaurant is a case in point. Urbanspoon is perhaps the most comprehensive site of food reviews for Victoria. Even though Beirut is new, it has significantly more reviews that many well established restaurants. And that is where the problem lies (in the spirit of full disclosure I should state that I have not visited this place).

Take a look its reviews. Pay particular attention to the number of
reviews that each of the reviewers has written. As of today (July 13), there are 11 reviews, the top 6 are all written by people who have reviewed only one restaurant. The restaurant is less than 2 weeks old, and yet, some of those reviewers claim to have been there three times. I am suspicious.

On the other hand, one of those last six reviewers was negative. And this is precisely the problem that new restaurants face today: a disgruntled customer writes a bad review about a bad experience---to which such consumer is totally entitled. This review is read by many people who are borderline on whether to visit or not, tilting the balance against the restaurant. To be fair, he is not the only one. Several reviewers have stated their dissatisfaction. Why go to a place where we
might have a bad experience when there are so many options that we know will give us a good one?

There is, however, one aspect that I support in many of those 1-time reviewer's comments: a new restaurant needs feedback. If you go there and you do not like the food, tell them. It will do nothing for your meal, but it might be the difference for the future of a restaurant. And if the restaurant adjusts and improves, we all win: its owner, its employees, and we, those we one day might decide to thorough its doors.

Hopefully Beirut will learn from its first customers, and survive this difficult beginning. Victoria needs Middle Eastern restaurants.

For more information, including location, visit:
Beirut Restaurant on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Yeah I agree - I would like to see more reviews over time from established reviewers not all these instant fans. I have eaten there twice both with different results, but neither bad. Service could improve but hey they are new. I would like to see some kind of punch card then I would go more often. I like that kind of food, but just not everyday of the week though. They are definitely not shy about garlic and hot sauce so if you don't want any friends it's all good! Ha anyhow I would say try it out but keep in mind it is just middle easter fast food so don't expect fine cutlery and someone to fold the napkin over your lap before you eat. I like my pita bread soft and warm so maybe they should get a different supplier or something. Other than that it's pretty good.