Brett Rosselli, for the second time in a year, is facing a social media backlash for his online comments about his businesses.
The owner of Sierra St. Kitchen & Cocktails and Skyline Kitchen & Vine, Rosselli last year blamed a “rogue employee” for sending an email to Sierra St. Kitchen customers calling Gov. Steve Sisolak the “Third Reich Leader.”
He said in April last year:
“The content of the email referenced the Third Reich which is appalling by itself. It is a hateful comment that has no place in our community and would never come from us at Sierra St. Kitchen, my family or myself. There is no comparison of this type of hatred. Even worse we just closed on the week honoring the holocaust remembrance day of Yom HaShoah. We at Sierra St [sic] Kitchen with the additional resources of the ADL are working on instituting a plan of education for our team to make sure this never happens again.”
Since then, typo-ridden posts in Rosselli’s name on Yelp, in response to negative reviews, have called people fag, idiots, “woke idiots,” retards, window lickers, “Dumb tard” and “Mid town hippi trash.”
Both restaurants maintain overall positive, 4-star-plus reviews. It’s the negative reviews that seem to draw ire from the business owner.
Meghan Kenney recently posted on Facebook about how appalled she was by Rosselli’s behavior after she and her daughter left a negative review after an experience at Sierra St. Kitchen.
“Stop drinking the contaminated water, it make [sic] you stupid,” Rosselli wrote in response to Kenney’s review. “You’re also not welcome here like the Cali retards. Seriously another Dumb tard. It hurts to read dumb peoples [sic] comments like yours. Have a nice life and stay clear of those railroad tracks.”
“My daughter and I are speechless with his response to our reviews,” Kenney posted on Facebook, a post that recently received dozens of shares.
She wasn’t alone. Another reviewer was also critical of the food quality and was berated by Rosselli in return.
“Super disappointing,” she wrote. “Really poor quality, cold frozen fries and I’m sorry but if you can’t properly cook a hard boiled egg and then turn around and charge me $10 for a half an egg and two bites of lettuce, it’s not my jam.”
In response, Rosselli wrote: “Really- Eat like an adult and then you can do a review. Covid isn’t the problem. Guests like you are. Thanks for the review on THE FRIES AND AN EGG. wow your [sic] special. Rode the short bus did we. Keep the helmet on and keep those windows clean by licking them. Mid town hippi [sic] trash I see. Stay in your lane.”
When Jeong P. from California made a reservation for dinner there in February for 9 p.m., he said he arrived at Sierra St. on time, and the business was closed.
“I still have no idea what happened but I made a reservation for dinner here and the place was closed when I arrived. It left us with no dinner plans and a pretty bad impression,” he wrote on Yelp. “Their Yelp shows that they close at 10 p.m. and their website shows that they close at 12 midnight. I even got a text the day before asking me to confirm my reservation, which I did. We showed up at 8:55 p.m. and all the lights were off and the place was closed. No note or anything.”
That review was met with vitriol by Rosselli. He called the reviewer an idiot.
“Guy is an An [sic] idiot. The Cali woke idiot should stay in Cali where he belongs. Have you heard of Covid and that the [sic] effect it has had on the restaurant business? It’s a pretty big story. If it is slow we do close up early,” Rosselli wrote.
Jeong then said he was sent a message directly from the business owner, wherein a screen grab shows Rosselli called him a “fag.”
Rosselli, when contacted for comment about his review responses, threatened to sue This Is Reno and blamed what he called “woke trash people” — Yelp reviewers and social media commenters.
“THE STORY- [sic] should be about these type of people that abuse the system and hide behind the internet. I think your question or ‘story’ should be focussed [sic] on the people that write these reviews niot [sic] the industry that has to deal with them,” he said. “There is so much crap and misrepresentation on this newly found social media voice of yes ‘woke’, trash people. NOT every customer is right nor do they act in a manner that deserves a cordial response.
“Yelp is actually in the process of removing these fake reviews because they don’t follow the yelp [sic] protocol at all,” Rosselli added. “They are therefore fake reviews and will be removed. All of these people have not even been in the establishment and most don’t even live in the state of NV [sic]. Just jumping on the cancel culture bandwagon- sad!!!!” [sic].
Yelp and social media companies like Facebook remove reviews of businesses that are clearly made by people who are not customers, or reviews that violate the company’s terms of service. But not all Rosselli’s reviews fit this criteria.
Yelp recommends, in the face of what a business owner may consider a poor customer, to stay calm, listen and empathize.
“Apologies can work as long as you make them and you create the change that your apology is suggesting.”
“It doesn’t matter whether you think the customer is right or wrong. Simply acknowledging that you understand how the customer is feeling can go a long way. And it is also the most neutral stance you can take,” the company posted on its blog. “The calmer and more solution-oriented your response is, the better you represent your brand.”
Todd Felts, a professor of strategic communication at the University of Nevada, Reno, said responding to negative reviews should be a learning experience for business owners.
“One of the things that we know about crisis communications is that apologies can work as long as you make them and you create the change that your apology is suggesting,” he said. “But it appears that this individual has not made those changes and continues to create concern.
“Everybody should be given the right to their opinion,” Felts added. “But the thing is, is that he has to speak to his customer, the customer that he wants in there, the customer that he needs to be successful. If he is going through a learning moment, then when people post negative reviews, historically, I mean, the practice is, if you address the negative reviews, and thank people for posting a negative review, they tend to go away really quickly.
“But if you engage around the negative review, they’re going to live a long time.”
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR.