Cheester: Is There Such a Thing as Bad Publicity?

One of my Cancun favorites, Cheester restaurant put up a post on its Facebook page this past Saturday that sparked quite the controversy all over Cancun’s social media culture:

hola amigos de cheester es de vital importancia que si es tu piensas festejar tu cumpleaños, reunion, posada, graduacion etc debes decirle a tus amigos que mesas mayores a 12 personas esperaras por lo menos 45 min si llegas en horas pico digamos entre 2 y 6 y entre 8 y 10 de la noche y que tenemos un consumo minimo de 100 pesos por persona, mas el 15 % de servicio asi que avisales a tus amigos, esto quiere decir que si vienes a ocupar un espacio y no vas a consumir mejor vayan a mac donalds evitenme la pena de causarte un mal momento SI ESTAS DE ACUERDO CON LAS REGLAS Y SON PERSONAS CIVILIZADAS ESTAMOS EN LA MEJOR DISPOSICION DE ATENERLES ( MESAS MAYORES DE 12 ES CASI IMPOSIBLE DE SERVIR DEVIDO A LA CAPACIDAD DEL RESTAURANTE ) POR SU COMPRENCION GRACIAS Y LOS ESPERAMOS

Here’s my rough translation (complete with spelling and grammar errors):

Hello friends of cheester it’s of vital importance that if you’re planning to celebrate your birthday, get-together, posada, graduation etc you should tell your friends that tables of more than 12 people will wait at least 45 minutes if you arrive during peak hours let’s say from 2 to 6 and from 8 to 10 at night and there’s a minimum bill of 100 pesos (about $10 USD) per person, plus 15 % service so let your friends know, this means that if you’re coming to take up space and you’re not going to eat you’d better go to mac donalds don’t make me have to ruin your evening IF YOU AGREE WITH THE RULES AND ARE CIVILIZED PEOPLE WE ARE MORE THAN HAPPY TO SERVE YOU ( TABLES MORE THAN 12 ARE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO SERVE DO TO THE CAPACITY OF THE RESTAURANT ) THANKS FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDIN AND HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON

Followers were immediately in an uproar over this statement, mainly due to the mean tone of the post.

I was upset at first as well because it made me feel unwelcome as a customer, but I’m ok with it now for several reasons:

  1. Cheester is and has always been known for its sarcastic, no BS attitude. Their original restaurant even has a list of rules posted, insisting you not be cheap and tip your waiter, no special orders, we close promptly at 11, etc etc. I’ve been personally yelled at by the chef for making a special order, and the chef has also come out to tell my friends to stop using their Blackberries at dinner (haha). They have always been known for their acidic humor and everyone just thought it was funny, so why should they be expected to change now?
  2. If I read over this carefully, they’re actually pretty good rules and advisories.
    • The restaurant is VERY small, and doesn’t fit groups of 12. Thanks for the heads up.
    • Yes there will be a wait, especially for groups. Cheester doesn’t accept reservations and is always packed. Again, thanks for the heads up.
    • Automatic 15% service for large groups is standard for pretty much every restaurant.
    • $100 pesos minimum… I think this is a bit high considering Cheester dishes each cost around $100 and are meant for 2 or more people… but I get their point that you can’t just be sitting there taking up space.

New anti-Cheester Facebook groups have been formed calling for boycotts, and many are using the hashtag #CheesterSucks on Twitter.

Cheester has since posted 3 apologies on its Facebook page.

What do you think? Did they cross the line this time? Should they have to apologize? Is this good or bad publicity for Cheester?

Juan, Viri, Jorge and me at Cheester a few months back

12 thoughts on “Cheester: Is There Such a Thing as Bad Publicity?

  1. Everyone has to have rules or chaos ensues. It’s better to post the rules and break them once in a while then to need them and not have them, IMO. Would it turn me away? If I were scheduling a big party and this was my favorite restaurant then I would already know that it’s going to be a wait (right?) So nope. I’m on board with it.

    And really, you are right. Even IHOP here has a 15% mandatory addition to your bill for parties of 6 or more, so the 12 or more is actually pretty generous.

  2. Well I’ve heard it doesn’t really matter if it’s good or bad, as long as they’re talking about you. I never quite understood all the hype surrounding cheester, it’s a decent place to eat if you want to save some money but nothing special.

    Putting aside personal opinions, there’s no excuse for BAD service and that’s something they need to fix right away, if something good came out of this it’s the fact that they noticed there’s plenty of room for improvement and there’s no way to deny it.

    I wish them success and hopefully they’ll catch up with higher quality service and be on par with the expectations of their customers.

  3. I guess time will tell – if they become a lot less busy in the coming weeks then they’ll have only themselves to blame. Maybe posting on facebook the actual rules they have laid out would have been better – it’s already there, why not remind people. The wording does sound mean, but from a place as you describe, it’s not too far over the top.

  4. Because of my experiences waiting tables, I am actually proud of Cheester. The amount of times I had to smile through all the rude customers and bad tips was degrading. People know that most businesses will bend over backwards to say “the customer is always right.” And I have seen a lot of customers take advantage of that to get free stuff and have an excuse to be mean to the staff. I would be happy to wait tables at Cheester and know that I will not end up serving a table of 15 where half of them don’t even order food, but they all stick around and take up space for hours.

  5. I must visit Cheester’s next time I’m in Cancun. Rules are rules and I see nothing wrong with what they have posted. People should leave 15% especially if the service is good.

  6. I think they will have more room with this and a shorter wait. Parece que se les subio pero a todos les llega el Karma algun dia.

  7. I’ve not been to the Cheesters in Cancun but the one in Playa is great. The guys that runs this one always has a big smile on his face, greeting everyone who comes in and making sure everyone is being served. He is always the guy working the hardest in his establishment and that is rare.

    I have read the rules, they are posted here in Playa as well, and I almost always comply. 😉 I think, in anticipation of the holiday season, a reminder about the rules and limitations of the restaurant and its staff is a good idea. (It sure will weed out the riff raff) As it was done in the tone that Cheesters has become known for, then so be it. A little tongue in cheek humor never hurt anyone. 🙂

  8. I don’t think they crossed a line. It’s their facebook page, they can say what they want! I tell my Mom that all the time when she gets upset with what people post 😉

  9. Rules are rules. I think their point is valid. Don’t take up space if you’re not going to order. It’s rude to the waiter who is just trying to pay his rent like everyone else. If you want to just sit and chill, then grab a bottle of wine from your local grocery and stay home.

  10. I really followed the whole story as soon as it started but never made a comment, I am so happy you brought it up. So here I go: I LOVE CHEESTER’S and I think they are geniuses with their marketing and publicity, there is NO way people are going to boycott or even think I or the rest of the people who don’t care if some cheap people made the chef and owners mad, wont go ?? hahaha they are wrong!! BEST PUBLICITY ever cheester was on FACEBOOK and on TWITTER for more than a week a trending topic in the #cancun area and everyone was talking about their facebook post. Even a month after this I went to a posada before christmas and people where still commenting on the situation hahahaha I think its amazing just like those crapy commercials on TV that you can’t stop talking about (Old Spice) because they are so BAD they are great publicity. Saludos ilse

  11. When you get 15 young people come in and take up tables for two hours after ordering 7 lemonades, you might get a little surly yourself as you see your staff losing money and your food that should have been being served go to waste. This is an awesome place to eat excellent food.

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