A Brisbane restaurant is battling to save its name, after a woman claimed she had hair in her food when refusing to pay the bill.
But the restaurant owner of the Brisbane Italian eatery, Casa Nostra Ristorante, is fighting to have their name cleared, after they captured the patron evidently putting her own hair in the meal before making the complaint.
In security footage provided to Channel 9, the video shows a woman having finished most of her meal when it appears she grabs a piece of hair from her head and puts it on the half-eaten plate.
Sarah Biuso, who is the co-owner of Casa Nostra Ristorante alongside her husband and head chef of the venue, told news.com.au she had her concerns about the patron from the start.
"The incident happened on Saturday evening," Mrs Biuso, who has been in the restaurant business for 20 years, said.
"We had two people book a table for dinner, with the woman booking saying she was bringing the Duchess of Netherlands as her guest.
"My son who works in the restaurant took the booking, and it was quite bizarre, but he listened and took down what they said."
When the patrons arrived for their 7pm booking, Mrs Biuso said they were "quite forceful from that moment they came into the restaurant".
"They seemed a little pushy," she said.
"They were seated outside in our alfresco area, but they didn't think outside was acceptable, so we sat them inside.
"Then they tried to make their own menu."
Mrs Biuso said that both patrons were vegetarian, and being an Italian restaurant - the menu extensively caters for non-meat eating customers.
"They tried to create their own dish, asking if they could alter their pasta, which we said was fine," Mrs Biuso said.
The Customer Is Always Right hey?????? Look what we, and other food business owners have to deal with on a regular basis. We work hard every single day to give our customers an amazing experience in our restaurant and then you find people like this who decide to try and blackmail us for a hair in their meal. As you can see, she put her own hair in the plate, stirred it around and insisted the waiter remove it from her as she was so offended. FYI they tried to pretend it was a man and woman, but it was two women and both wrote a review. We could see 101% it was the customers hair and that is the reason why we did not remove this dish from the bill. Because we did not remove the dish from the bill, they told us explicitly that they would post bad reviews on Trip Advisor, which they did. Trip Advisor has a no blackmail policy for reviews and if you inform them in advance, they say they will not post them. Ummm no, we emailed them on the night this happened saying the customers threatened us with these bad reviews and we gave them easily identifiable information. Yep, you guessed it, the reviews are posted on Trip Advisor for all the world to see. Once again Trip Advisor publishes whatever they want for the world to see with no regards to the blood sweat and tears of business owners and our complete inability to control or withdraw fake and blackmailed reviews from these sites. Trip Advisor have been sued successfully in the past over similar incidents. Any other business owners have similar experiences and have had enough? We are in talks with our lawyer in regards to pursuing a case for defamation. Please share as much as possible to show the world what's going on.
"But what the customer wanted was to combine a main dish and an entree together, and just pay for the one dish.
"She asked for a gluten free, vegetarian pasta but wanted to add the fried calamari from our entree menu to the pasta."
Mrs Biuso explained that her son and waiter who took the order explained that combining two separate dishes for the price of one wasn't possible, and that she would need to order both dishes separately.
"So what we served her the gluten free vegetarian pasta, without calamari," Mrs Biuso said.
"Her friend had a completely different version of our seafood pasta as well, only wanting mussels in the dish."
Mrs Biuso said the pair seemed happy with their meals, with the woman in question eating ¾ of her dinner before making the hair complaint.
"I think to make it look legit, she ate most of it and then put the hair in," she said.
"She didn't get what she wanted so she tried not to pay for it."
The moment was caught on CCTV cameras, and according to Mrs Biuso - it was "really obvious" the hair wasn't from the waitstaff.
"As soon as the waiter cleared the plate, it was obviously the woman's hair," she said.
"We all have short dark trimmed hair, and this was a strand of dirty blonde curly hair."
Mrs Biuso and her husband, who only opened the restaurant nine months ago, said the woman tried to blackmail their son - who works at the restaurant as a waiter - with a bad review on Tripadvisor.
"The pair threatened to post a bad review if the meal wasn't taken off the bill," Mrs Biuso said.
"She was really rude while dealing with my son, but she was adamant and said, 'If you don't take this off the bill we will destroy your restaurant.'
"He was being respectful, but wasn't going to budge and give them a free meal. We said that's up to you if you want to give a bad review, we saw you doing it, and we won't remove it from the bill."
Mrs Biuso said the woman did as she'd expected, and left a "worst service ever" review on Tripadvisor.
Come on into Casa Nostra Ristorante and try our special dish of South Australian Pippies with our handmade pasta!! #brisbane #queensland #australia #food #foodporn #yum #instafood #yummy #amazing #instagood #photooftheday #sweet #dinner #lunch #breakfast #fresh #tasty #food #delish #delicious #eating #foodpic #foodpics #eat #hungry #foodgasm #hot #foods #italian #restaurant
"It was just a really disappointing incident," Mrs Biuso said.
"We were 101 per cent sure of what she'd done, and had proof she did it herself.
"We emailed Tripadvisor to let them know about this couple and that they were going to post a bad review, explaining that we had evidence. The next morning following the incident, two reviews did go up."
Mrs Biuso said that it took several emails with Tripadvisor, and some media coverage before the reviews were finally taken down.
"These reviews really damage a business," she said.
"When you have someone like this, they can hide and aren't attached to the review they leave.
"If we have made a mistake, and there's the slightest chance we are at fault with a meal, we apologise replace the order. That's how we deal with people and why we have been in the business for 20 years.
"But on this instance, we stood firm."
In a statement provided to news.com.au, Tripadvisor said that they strongly advise business owners who have received similar threats of blackmail to report the incident to the site's management.
"We take very seriously any allegations of blackmail or threatening behaviour by guests against business owners," the statement read.
"It is absolutely against the terms and spirit of our site to use TripAdvisor's name to try and claim discounts, compensation or freebies that would not be available to other guests. We strongly encourage owners who have experienced blackmail to proactively report such threats before a corresponding review is submitted by using our free Management Centre.
"When reporting such threats, we advise owners to provide as much information as possible to aid the investigation efforts of our fraud detection team. They will then be able to take action to stop those reviews from ever reaching the site."