Certainly not a great start to the new year for one local restaurant. I won't name it, but it was recently closed for having inappropriate items in a food cooler. They dealt with the matter, got reinspected, approved and reopened.
The problem is no one is coming back, and business is slow. Because of the nature of the closure and publicity in the local paper, it is become a running joke and akin to an urban legend.
Firstly, if you're going to manage / own a restaurant you need to take a Food Safety course. Just for your own peace of mind. Maybe you don't have to maintain a certification but at least take it once, so you know what is allowed. TIANB offers the NFSTP program, check it out here
And also Responsible Beverage, check that out here , you can do this course online in a couple of hours.
Secondly, if you had a social media community of patrons already built before something like this happens to you, then they would have stood up and defended you.
That's one of the hidden bonuses of Social Media - people don't like to see other people bashing stuff they like, and they will rise up and defend you. If you become a real person to them via online interaction as well as interaction in your establishment, people will start to feel like you're family and want to protect the things they like.
I'm sure this particular restaurant has many loyal patrons who would be vocal about their love of the restaurant but they do not have a venue. In fact I'm sure there have been a few tweets here and there, and maybe some facebook posts but without a standard hashtag or a business page, these one off voices are lost in a crowd.
I see a couple of people have recently posted positive reviews on Urban Spoon and Trip Advisor, which is great but still not focused enough.
Also if you had an online community you could offer them a special discount code or coupon to entice them to return.
Thirdly, though it's just as important as Social Media, you should have an optimized website. I don't believe this particular restaurant has a website, so all the bad press is rising to the top of the Google ranks and they don't have a snowball's chance in heck of pushing those out of the top ten unless they have their own website and are continually refreshing content
Regrettably I read the owner quoted as saying "they didn't know how to make customers return" and I knew they were automatically thinking expensive old school methods like radio and newsprint.
This incident might inevitably lead to the closure of this restaurant and in my head I know the outcome could have been different if they had a social media community they could reach out to. Start building yours today.