“The Ignite Restaurant Group is a portfolio of restaurant concepts fused together by a common commitment to provide guests with memorable, matchless dining experiences. Led by the belief that a spark of inspiration can ignite new, creative ideas and yield great results, Ignite has an uncompromising passion for delivering distinctive experiences for its guests, a work environment with rich opportunity for its team members, and best-in-class results for its stakeholders”
One of the franchises in the Ignite Restaurant Group is Joe’s Crab Shack, which is famous for its “Eat at Joe’s” slogan and steamed seafood pots.
This week, Joe’s finds itself in hot water and a compromising PR situation when it delivered a truly memorable, matchless, distinctive dining experience in its Roseville, MN location.
The last thing Tyrone Williams and his friend expected when they went to eat at Joe’s on Wednesday of this week was to find an 1895 photo of a lynching in Texas under their glass tabletop with the caption “All I said was ‘I don’t like the gumbo.'”
Williams promptly posted the picture on Facebook, asking friends to call into Ignite’s corporate office to complain, and on Thursday urged members of his community to join him and the Minneapolis NCAACP in a press conference outside the restaurant.
Williams also brought his complaint to the manager of the restaurant, who was apologetic. Later, a corporate representative of Ignite and Joe’s Crab Shack called Williams, offering him and his guest a $100 gift card and an apology, which Williams turned down because he said that he will never eat at Joe’s again.
David Catalano, Chief Operating Officer of Ignite issued the following statement:
“We understand one of the photos used in our table décor at our Joe’s Crab Shack location in Roseville, MN was offensive. We take this matter very seriously, and the photo in question was immediately removed. We sincerely apologize to our guests who were disturbed by the image and we look forward to continuing to serve the Roseville community.”
Like so many organizations before, Joe’s is using the bury-our-heads-in-the-sand approach. My question to so many PR managers and organizations is: Why can’t we learn from the mistakes of others?
Instead of offering transparency about the instance on the “official” Facebook page, Joe’s went on as if nothing had happened.
Obviously this is a bad move on Ignite’s and Joe’s part because the public is not letting them off the hook that easily.
Joe’s tweets didn’t address the situation either. Ditto for their Instagram.
Up for discussion
- How would you rate Joe’s and Ignite’s responses to the lynching photo so far?
- If you were the PR manager for Joe’s or Ignite, would you have opted for more transparency regarding the situation?
- Earlier this month, Ignite issued their quarterly statement that showed a 4.7% decrease in revenue compared to the same quarter last year, and shares fell 9.7% on March 4. How do you think that the situation in Roseville, MN will affect revenues for the entire group?
- How can Joe’s and Ignite move forward and regain the public’s favor?
As usual, all respectful and constructive dialog is welcome and needed.