Websites offering customers the chance to review their dining experience were "parasites" on the food industry, says an angry Auckland restaurant owner who's come out swinging at Zomato.
"At the end of the day the only way those guys make money is off our hard work," said Jonny Rudduck, owner of Ponsonby Rd Italian eatery, il buco.
"Without us they are nothing and in my view, they're parasites ..."
Mr Rudduck, who has more than 30 years' experience in the hospitality industry and a solid 3.7 rating on Zomato, said the site encouraged every patron to become a reviewer.
Rudduck added: "If you don't enjoy something just don't go back. Tell your friends, do whatever, but God, why go online? It's almost like they're trying to destroy your business."
Rumours suggested Zomato accepted payment for placement of eateries on a search and even the ability to edit reviews. However, this is "absolutely not" true, the website's country manager, Kirsty Cardy said in denying the food industry claims. Their only profit comes from advertising.
"We do not take any bribery or any money. If a restaurant says to us 'we'll give you $1000 if you remove that negative review,' the answer is 'no'," she said.
"There is a lot of that out there with other websites which is why I think Zomato gets a bad rap."
The furore began after Molten Restaurant owner, Sven Nielsen, took to Facebook to vehemently hit back at diners who wrote a scathing review of his Mt Eden restaurant on Zomato.
The review has been pulled down due to the unexpected media response.
Cazador co-owner Rebecca Smidt said the site simply gave people a platform to "have a rant online".
Kirsty Cardy said there were checks in place to ensure Zomato was neutral, transparent and accurate. She encouraged restaurant owners to respond to all reviews good or bad.
Zomato: out of India
• A website which carries information on eateries in 21 countries, including NZ
• Diners can search for a restaurant, read menus, get directions and read and post reviews
• Founded as Foodiebay in 2008 in India
• Zomato bought NZ's Menu-mania for an undisclosed sum in July 2014