Torrent of abuse from cafe owner 'disgusting'

23:00, Nov 27 2013

A couple who gave Tomato Cafe a one-star review on MenuMania over supposedly cold mince have hit back at the diatribe of abuse directed at them by fired-up owner James Pettengill.

Mike Minifie and his partner Anna visited Tomato in George St in August and described their visit as "the worst ever", only to be given a "Menopausal Mania" review of their own by Mr Pettengill in return.

In the online outburst, which has made national headlines, Mr Pettengill describes Mr Minifie as "a beaten dog [cowering] at the sound of its owner's voice" and labels Anna a "malignant mole".

Mr Pettengill's post suggests Anna is "toxic", that she has "prune-like lips" and is similar to Lord of the Rings character Gollum.

Mr Minifie said the torrent of abuse given to his partner was "disgusting".

"I'm not the kind of person that tends to get pissed off but the way me and Anna have been treated, with his comments, they're so far off the mark. He clearly cannot take criticism."


Mr Minifie said the mince on his first dish was cold, and it then took 20 minutes to reheat his meal, which by then was ruined.

He said he was then given a cheaper lasagne meal from the counter to replace it and was then charged full price when he left.

"The mince was cold. I would agree with him taking his staff's word over his customer, but he should make sure his staff are telling the truth.

"I think they have this attitude that we came into their place so they could do what they like."

Mr Pettengill said he was unrepentant about the comments, which he had done for a laugh, and those looking to scourge the reputation of his wait staff should "jump in the Hokowhitu lake".

"I've had a lot of hate over it, but I would post the same comments again today. I don't know if she had prune-like lips but I said it because I knew that would hurt.

"We try to make people happy but I'd rather spread the good energy on customers that actually want it rather than the people that think they have the right to be pricks."

The waiter who served the couple was Hospitality NZ waiter of the year at the Manawatu Hospitality Awards in 2012, Krystal Simpson.

Ms Simpson said she could see from the moment the couple walked in that they were going to be difficult.

"I like to look at people like that as a challenge. We did everything we could for them. I looked back after and thought ‘was there anything more we could have done' but I'm not sure there was.

"We were flat out and when they said the mince was cold we cooked them a whole new meal. When they didn't like that we got them the lasagne from the cupboard and heated it up for them.

"There's some people that you just can't please."

Manawatu Standard