Last week’s news about a Morton’s steak dinner delivery to a man at the Newark airport after the steakhouse had seen his preflight meat-wish on Twitter got us thinking about Twitter’s new role in customer service. The social media service has rapidly become the equivalent of a high-tech 800 line for every type of business, from banks to airlines, and restaurants are proving no exception. Here’s a look at three recent cases where food businesses have handled tweets with great savvy—or not.

Customer Ejected for Insulting Staff on Twitter While Eating
What happened: On August 14, 2011, Allison Matsu was having drinks at Houston’s Down House when she overheard a bartender insulting another local restaurateur. She tweeted that the bartender was a “twerp.” Minutes later, the GM of Down House, Forrest DeSpain, called, asked to speak to Matsu, and demanded she leave the restaurant.

What happened next: An online firestorm, which included the spectacle of Matsu fighting with the very restaurateur whom the bartender she had called a twerp had insulted and who ended up banning Matsu from his restaurant too for being “too big of a PR liability.”

Most amusing tweet: Left @DownHouseHTX in tears after GM called up & asked the bartender to hand me the phone. He proceeded to curse a me & ask me to leave. Wow

Pizza Place Regrets Calling Customer a Dumbass
What happened: On August 14, 2011, the owner of Emma’s Pizza in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was annoyed by a customer who requested meatballs on a pressed veggie sandwich and kicked up a fuss about paying extra for them. The owner called her a “dumbass” on Twitter, igniting another fuss.

What happened next: After being shamed by Twitter onlookers, the owner apologized, also over Twitter.

Most amusing tweet: @Thoughtfuleats I never mentioned names which hardly makes it a public berating. I’m wondering who asked you how to run my biz anyway? #MYOB

Chipotle’s Quick Response to Bacon Gaffe
What happened: On July 29, 2011, Chipotle customer and “non-pork eater” Seth Porges discovered to his dismay that the pinto beans contain bacon. After tweeting his concern, he received an apology call within two hours from Chipotle CEO Steve Ells, who vowed that the company would change their policies immediately.

What happened next: Chipotle received a ton of press, both from media blogs and personal blogs.

Most amusing tweet: After more than decade of ordering Chipotle pinto beans, I was told they have bacon. As a non-pork eater, I feel ill. cc: @ChipotleM­edia

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