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How Mr Benjamin Hewitt of Brave Cafe Handles Negative Feedback

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Update: A journalist at took an interest in this, and while they stopped short of naming Brave Cafe or Ben, they have covered the story with equal amazement at his rudeness!

Update 2: Channel 9 News have just called me and want to report on the full story, I have however politely declined. It’s already blown up out of all proportions (As Ron Burgundy would say: “Boy, that escalated quickly!”) and I have nothing really to gain from appearing on TV other than laboring the issue, and I think I’ve already made my point!

Update 3: A journalist from has been in touch and is interested on doing a report on the correct way for hospitality businesses to use social media. I’m excited about this one as it’s right up my street!

We went for breakfast on Sunday at Brave Cafe in Bondi Beach. I won’t bore you with the details (you can read my full review of Brave Cafe here if you like), but it was all fairly terrible.

After we complained in person, I felt the need to drop a review on their Facebook page as well, which simply said “Dirty. Ants. Burnt food. Extortionate prices.”

Brave cafe Facebook review: Dirty. Ants. Burnt food. Extortionate prices.

My review on Facebook to alert other people of my experience at Brave Cafe (before Brave Cafe deleted their Facebook page)

This morning I awoke to a slanderous, rude and offensive email from the owner of Brave Cafe (which is Benjamin Hewitt). Have a read below, but be warned, it’s a long old email. Clearly he had nothing better to do (although I’d suggest washing your crockery would be a good alternative pastime, Ben.):

Paul, I’m shocked to hear that you didn’t love the food and enjoy the vibe. I am sorry you were so disappointed. But, I find your review to be so negative and distorted, that i felt compelled to respond to it, aside from the fact that we are going to offer you (and your missus?) a free replay, or breakfast for 2 in an attempt to put things RIGHT.

Paul, ever heard of the ‘scarcity mentality’? Mate, your review and star rating differ wildly from how your table behaved to the manager’s face (let alone the average on Fb). It’s always so easy to take such categorical, and damaging, pot-shots from afar, on public sites like FB, rather than putting yourself out a bit to report/query something and enable/allow a process of review to be undertaken and a win-win solution to be found. I think that it takes a lot of man to be constructive, honest and to not just see things/get trapped in scarcity-as all, or nothing. Good or total shite.

Your table said that you weren’t happy with the amount of maple, for instance. Well, for one, we actually use REAL maple syrup at $50 per litre! But why not just politely ask for some more at the time instead of waiting until 10pm that night to take revenge? Btw, the second cook has since been spoken to (again and again) about the amount of maple he was supposed to have given you, based upon feedback provided to us by our waiter, AFTER you had left.

Do you know how to/can you simultaneously manage ten, gen Y part-timers, so well, that you are able to ubiquitously catch every sloppy act of laziness (and there are more than you can ever prepare or train for these days), across a menu that has so many components and potential pit-falls-before they are almost certainly pounced upon by the average, ‘scarcity-based, pumped-up, myopic consumer-come-casual-social-media-activist-OUTRAGE-readied-advocate’ for unreasonably great food, at unreasonably cheap prices, in impossible time frames??? Well, if you haven’t, I don’t really recommend it. In fact, my partner has been brought to tears on many an occassion at the hands of some myopic BRAT, who had a hell of a lot of misconceptions about the REALITY of food production during peak periods, had absolutely no tolerance for any tiny error made by our STAFF (what can we do? Seriously we aren’t gods) and had a whole lot of aggression and a sense of entitlement that places her squarely in the VICTIM category. Loo-hoo-hooser!

The fact that we nail it nearly every time, in spite of the anomalous mind of the casual cafe worker, and work our guts out employing people who risk nothing and ALWAYS get paid, in stark contrast to most business owners, lately, is compounding when some absolute ignoramus circumvents reason, and intelligence, to stand in front of other people having a great time and launches an attack and abuses the manager/owner. That sort of behavior is pathological. Nuff said.

Some context for Def: Extortionate (of a price) much too high; exorbitant.
“£2,700 for that guitar is extortionate”
synonyms: exorbitant, excessively high, excessive,
sky-high, outrageous, preposterous, immoderate, unreasonable, inordinate, prohibitive, ruinous, punitive, inflated, more than one can afford…..

Well, our pancakes are also made organic gluten-free, using flour that is 6 times more expensive than the regular crap bleached flour you would get anywhere else in Bondi for similarly priced pancakes-along with the usual fake maple syrup, cage eggs and canola spray (in place of ACTUAL FREE-RANGE and butter which is what we use). I think that is an overstatement. Thanks for throwing it on just to kick our business, even although the price is right and that what happened was out of my control. No, really. Thanks Paul.

One star out of five. That’s so harsh-as low as one can go. How could you manage to fake your presumable utter disdain so well that the manager could not detect your reprehensible truth laying just below the surface. Did you eat them all? Was the fruit, fresh?

Ants? Wtf? Why didn’t you behave like any well meaning, community minded person and just let us know. It’s news to us.
Burnt???? Why did you just eat it? Why not ask for a replacement? Maybe, because you ate them, and you can’t really send nothing back? Would you then, therefore, eat a glass laced omelette just because it was served up to you at a cafe? I think not!

Paul, I am a forgiving person, and I hope you take this in the spirit that it is intended. Bear in mind, that you just shat on my art, in public, yet your ratings languish some 3 stars from the average. i hope you will come in again, soon, and allow me a fair trial as I’m certain this time you will understand why we have been here for 7 years as the rest have come and gone.. Please PM if you are prepared to eat like a man!

Astonishing, huh?!

I think as far as taking on feedback is concerned, poor old Ben has a lot to learn.

My response to this tirade of childish abuse was as follows:

Thank you for your, albeit very aggressive, reply.

Just to clarify on my review points for you;

Ants – We flicked 8-10 of them off our table on arrival. One of your staff saw us doing so. We didn’t move as we saw no more near us for the remainder of being in the premises.

Dirty – The plastic water glasses had dried food on the outside of them (we scratched it off). The tea pot had, what appeared to also be food encrusted all over it. (A side note – I noticed a guy on a table of four sat by the door, who had the eggs benedict, pull out 2 hairs from his food but it isn’t my place to comment on someone else’s experience).

Burnt – It actually looked like, rather than the pancakes being burnt themselves, that it could have been leftover food from a dirty grill that had been burnt on to them (I refer you to the above point). Either way, you could hammer a nail in with them.

Extortionate prices – I don’t know who your suppliers are, but that’s not really my issue/point. Based on all of the other cafes in Bondi, you are at least $5-6 more expensive for most menu items, and it’s not like the premium is being paid for the quality!

You also ask for my advice on managing “gen-y” staff. If you can’t manage your team, I suggest the problem isn’t with them (they seemed more than personable to me) but rather with their manager(s). You may want to invest in a people-skills course – It seems like a bit of advice in this area could be warranted based on your reply to me.

In terms of complaining, we mentioned the lack of maple syrup before starting to eat, and a member of your staff did bring us some more. After eating, both of us individually mentioned that the food wasn’t great. I made comment while paying that it wasn’t the best pancake in Bondi, but got no response. My partner also commented to a lad clearing the table that the food wasn’t good – he apparently was apologetic. So please don’t call me offensive names for not complaining in person, as we did, several times.

As for my review not being the norm; Taking a look over your Facebook reviews, you only have 2, one being mine. There is also a comment made a few months ago from “John” stating that he had a poor experience and won’t be returning to your café. The writing appears to be on the wall – literally.

If you spent half the time and effort on running your business than you did in trying to justify yourself in rude messages to customers, you may be doing a bit better.

Just so you are aware, I have all intentions of publishing your message, as I find it incredibly offensive and unprofessional.

And published it was! covered Ben Hewitt’s response to me (although they stopped short of naming him or Brave Cafe).

You stay classy, Ben Hewitt

* Footnote: Ben has never been brave enough to sign anything directly with his name. The message I received was from the owner of Brave Cafe, but not actually signed by him, however Ben is the cafe’s owner. Just for clarity, there is the chance that the message wasn’t from him, but another employee at Brave Cafe, but I’ll leave that up to you to come to a conclusion!