It all began on Saturday, 5th May, when my wife, a friend and I decided to drop in at Burgs, a gourmet burger restaurant in Bandra.
In a nutshell, they refused to remove the tomato slice from my burger, stating that it was against their company policy.
Feeling rather angry, I wrote a blog post about my experience on Sunday, 6th May, and put it up here for all the world to see. I urge you to read that story before continuing to read this post.
How It Spread
I was so angry that I didn’t want to just vent through a blog post. I wanted to make sure that everybody who googled up Burgs saw my review of the place. I spent an hour posting my review to websites like MumbaiBoss, Zomato and Burrp, as well as foodie blogs like The Big Bhookad.
Around the same time, I picked up on Burgs’ Twitter account, and reached out to them as well. My wife, sitting next to me, started scrolling through @BurgsIndia – and was shocked to see that their attitude existed on their Twitter account as well. Here’s a selection of their tweets.
That’s about when some folks on Twitter picked up on my story, and started tweeting back. Here’s how it unfolded.
A glance at their Twitter profiles will tell you that these guys are popular, influential on (and off) Twitter, and have possibly been rubbed the wrong way by Burgs. The reply from Burgs was the last straw.
Within the hour, most of Twitter had started chucking virtual tomatoes at Burgs. They flayed Burgs alive for not customising my burger and for their couldn’t-give-a-fuck attitude. And also started cracking tomato jokes all around. The Tomato Tweeters included stand-up comics like Tanmay Bhat and Rohan Joshi, journos like Ashish Shakya, foodies like Adarsh Munjal, Sahil K and Aneesh Bhasin, fashionistas like Latha Sunadh, and the ones who’d started it all off – Nik, Rahul Chawra, Mithun K, Roopak Saluja, Roycin D’Souza, Ranjit, One Black Coffee, et al.
Soon enough, ‘tomato’ was trending on Trendsmap Mumbai. And if Satyameva Jayate hadn’t hogged the Trending Topics pane on Twitter, ‘tomato’ would’ve been up there for sure. It got better. Somebody went and created the official Twitter account of the tomato in the burger. Finally, Burgs India responded. Announced that tomatoes were now optional. Put it up on their Twitter bio even.
But even then, the attitude persisted. And the Tomato Tweeple picked up on it.
Finally, around evening, the story died down. And Burgs could breathe a sigh of relief.
Why #TomatoGate Went Viral
Two reasons, in my opinion.
One: Who hasn’t been at the receiving end of poor service from restaurants (and other service businesses)? We hear stories from friends and acquaintances about their experiences every day. My story was no different – but it was completely relatable. It became all about sticking it to ‘the Man’.
Two: Burgs India shot themselves in the proverbial foot. They were rude to guys like Adarsh and Roycin. And too proud and insensitive on Twitter overall. Their reply to me was the icing on the cake. And they still haven’t apologised to me. Nobody trolls someone who’s made one mistake and shows that they want to rectify it. But if you’re going to persist in being a smartass…be prepared to have your ass handed to you.
Lessons learnt, I hope.