Benihana: Defamation or Constructive Criticism?

I love Benihana. I passed by a few days after their opening and ordered the entire sashimi selection. It was of high quality and extremely filling. Their wakame salad’s great too.

Service was awesome, order and the waiters, supervisors and managers handled all my constant menu nagging with total professionalism. They answered my questions wholeheartedly- without the slightest sense of “ugh” or “uff“. I annoyed the waitress for extra ginger, and she just kept on serving me more with what seemed to be an infinite supply of great attitude and smiles.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a review.

Dear Benihana Kuwait

Why are you suing Mark 248am? When I first heard about this, I immediately rushed to read his review.

I don’t get it. I read it thoroughly, and I can’t seem to comprehend why you’re taking legal actions for a review that isn’t the least bit negative. Even if you saw it as being negative, why not take contructive criticism positively? If anything, Mark’s doing you a favor. He’s offering his extensive restaurant-reviewing experience free of charge. He posted about Benihana before some of us even knew Benihana existed (I found out about it through 248am- never knew you guys existed). Personally, I enjoy reading his reviews because Mark’s a strict reviewer.

I enjoyed my savory dishes at Benihana because Mark posted about Benihana. Be it negative, nuetral or positive, I went and enjoyed my stay. So will every reader of his blog.

Defamation

In my opinion, you’ve defamed yourself. Suing someone for freedom of speech is low by any standards. What could have been seen as an opportunity was seen as a problem, and in order to solve that problem you went ahead and sued one of the most influential bloggers in Kuwait. Fail.

39 Responses to “Benihana: Defamation or Constructive Criticism?”

  1. Bodie Says:

    It is not a complete fail by any stretch of the imagination. While they may not win the lawsuit, the fact that they had the balls to sue such an influential blogger is a big win for them. By doing that, they ensured that the public will no longer speak out about their “subpar” food choices – which is the opinion of one blogger and one that you stated that you didn’t share.

    This is not an uncommon practice, by the way, nor can we attribute it to regional conditions. The SLAPP suit is alive and well.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/01/us/01slapp.html?_r=1&th=&emc=th&pagewanted=all

  2. FAHAD Says:

    Bodie: “By doing that, they ensured that the public will no longer speak out about their “subpar” food choices” – that’s a legit fail.

  3. Bodie Says:

    How? If the restaurant is no longer reviewed on blogs, then the public will have to TRY out the food for themselves, thereby driving food consumption at said restaurant up.

  4. FAHAD Says:

    Bodie: Benihana had bad reviews prior to Mark’s post. People will continue to review and voice their opinions.

  5. Bodie Says:

    PRIOR to Mark’s post. You mean before Benihana took action and decided to sue Kuwait’s most influential blogger?

    They went after the biggest fish in the big pond. Sure, there might be some stray reviewers who wouldn’t give a crap, but there will be less negative reviews as a result of this, for Benihana as well as others. Sure, people take their blogs seriously, but if they are dragged to court, whether erroneously or rightly, they will stop blogging. Especially in a society such as ours.

  6. My Benihana Experience - 2:48AM [The A-Sides] Says:

    [...] Plastic Souks: Benihana Bashes Bloggers Trying to be Fahad: Defamation or Constructive Criticism? Catalyze: How not to respond to negative feedback Snow in Kuwait: 248AM Blogger getting sued [...]

  7. FAHAD Says:

    Bodie: Yes- word of mouth killed Benihana before Mark reviewed it.

    Their tactic might work outside of Kuwait, but not in this society. You’ve got MP’s grilling PM’s- Kuwait’s united, not divided. Going after the big fish will only cause a greater chain reaction that’ll work against Benihana. Benihana dragging Mark to court won’t stop anyone from posting bad reviews.

  8. Bodie Says:

    There’s a difference between an MP who grills PMs for a living and and a blogger who uses his blog to express how he or she feels, and usually for little to no profit. Mark is the exception, not the rule (and even he has a daytime job).

    Livelihood = Vocation = PMs

    Hobby = Something to pass the time = Bloggers

  9. TheRex Says:

    Im going to comment and I know for sure you two are going to try to make mince meat of what ever I say. Who cares 9a7?
    I personally think he deserves it [a taste of his own medicine], because he was calling for stricter publishing and slandering laws (Check his ‘Kuwait times publishes a retraction’ post & comments). Other than that, I think the whole episode is stupid. Sure, id like to see less people posting restaurant reviews, and more people posting about the massacre of Sabra and Shatila–something I brought to his attention and he never posted about–but, hypocrisy aside, its his blog and “kaifa.”
    As for Benihana, well, they should stop sucking satans penis and accept peoples opinions and criticism.

    (*I stand by mark, because, even if I may disagree with him on some issues, I respect his right to say what he pleases. I also respect his right to be one of the agents of apathy in this country.)

    Thank you and I love you all, group hug?

  10. AlSubah Says:

    So, lets say that 248am was wrong to share his opinion of the restaurant on his blog. Do you think Benihana’s actions was good for the restaurant reputation? to sue him because he didnt like it? They’re doing more damage to themselves than 248am did!

    I’m with Mark with this one. If I owned a restaurant that a blogger didn’t like. I would’ve invited him again and offered him our most recommended food. Not sue him!

    Allah y3eenah

  11. Bodie Says:

    While I agree with you two, and this is a first for me and Rex, don’t you think this also reflects badly on Mark? I wonder how many advertisers pulled their ads off his site because of what happened.

    Yes his blog will still get hits, but how many advertisers – and his are conservative advertisers like Zain and VIVA – will still have ads on his blog?

  12. FAHAD Says:

    Bodie: nobody’s pulling their ads off of 248am. You have no idea how many hits his blog gets masha’Allah. If anything, this lawsuit will get him more hits- negative into postive, dude.

  13. Bodie Says:

    Hits don’t automatically translate to advertising dollars.

    See: Pepsi pulling Ludacris after Bill O’Rielly torched him about his lyrics.

    Rex, you’ll enjoy this: A few months later, Ludacris got the last laugh when O’Rielly was found guilty of sexual harassment.

  14. Mohammad Says:

    I think i will open law firm right next to benihana just in case people visting the place need a legal advise :p i read his review and nothing wrong with it

  15. FAHAD Says:

    Bodie: show some compassion- you out of all people should understand. You’re opinionated and go beyond what’s considered the norm when you speak your mind.

    Put yourself in Mark’s place- probably pissing your pants and in need of moral support from friends, fans and family.

    Stop being such a douche and show some compassion.

  16. Rampurple Says:

    Rex: Sabra & Shatila?
    Seriously? Mark doesn’t write a political blog, and if you have noticed he has never written about politics. His blog isn’t about news and history. If that’s the stuff you would like to read, there are plenty of blogs out there that write about them. You can’t tell a blogger to write about something like that. If they don’t write such posts, it doesn’t mean that they don’t care, but they don’t want to get involved… or they might be posting about such topics on blogs that focus on such topics.

    Have you ever criticized Cosmopolitan magazine, or Harpers or Marie Claires for not writing about such topics?

    Please note that Mark is my brother, I too disagree with him on some of his posts, but I do stand with his right to post his opinions which really is what his review was all about. Initially when I read his reviews, I’d keep them in mind, but still try out the place since everyone has the right to their own opinion. However, seeing how Benihana has treated this, I would never consider trying the place out, and that seems to be how most people are feeling today.

  17. Alowaish Says:

    Bodie: show some compassion- you out of all people should understand. You’re opinionated and go beyond what’s considered the norm when you speak your mind.

    I know I do that, more times than I care to remember even, but unlike Mark, I don’t go around asking for compassion and parading the fact that I got “sued” (in my case, called out just like you did here) and release sensitive information about my case. He’s guilty of doing the same thing to others, so you’ll excuse me for not standing behind him and championing his cause.

    I can think of a handful of instances where Mark was in the shoes of Benihana, yet no one seems to remember that shit. You’ll excuse me for not letting bygones be bygones like you chose to do.

    If thinking that the dude basically got a taste of his own medicine and got served a handful of humble pie makes me a douche bag, so be it.

  18. Alowaish Says:

    PS. I find it hilarious that in your comment, Fahad, you played the part of Benihana by telling me to stuff my opinion where the sun don’t shine.

    You didn’t exactly sue me for 5000 KD, but the sentiment is the same.

  19. ahmed Says:

    Mark is just another typical colonising British fag living in the GCC.

  20. FAHAD Says:

    Alowaish: I didn’t play any part. I just called you an inconsiderate douchebag, simply because you were being an inconsiderate douchebag here and on Twitter.

    Kicking a man when he’s down makes you a douchebag. I didn’t stuff your opinion- I approved. I’m simply questioning your half-assed morals.

  21. Alowaish Says:

    I’m not kicking him while he’s down. I’m simply saying, like Malcolm X once said, that the chickens have come home to roost. (Look it up for the meaning, but it’s basically him getting a piece of his own medicine.)

    All I said, and this of course is the minority opinion, is that maybe Mark isn’t innocent in all of this. This is the first review he posted of an international chain restaurant, one where he didn’t get his “special treatment,” so you’ll excuse me for not taking his word as gospel. This international chain didn’t like his review (yes the suit is retarded, I realize that), and has decided to sue him as a corporate entity (and not a blog since he is a .com and makes a boatload of cash off his blog, and is very much a public figure. This isn’t some blogspot blog. This is 248am. Like Mark said in his deconstruction of his case when discussing who his lawyer was and linking to his twitter account, that’s important.)

    He’s ripped a few people a new asshole and has never apologized for it, and he’s not exactly Mother Teresa, so playing the innocence card and calling this suit – pending its result – a victory for bloggers in Kuwait, Dubai and the whole world makes HIM as much of a douche bag as I am.

  22. FAHAD Says:

    Alowaish: Who said anything about special treatment? He went in like any normal customer and reviewed the restaurant. He voiced his review based on his personal opinion. If Benihana can’t take criticism then it’s their problem.

    No one said Mark’s innocent or guilty. We’re simply calling out Benihana for suing someone over freedom of speech. What makes Mark so different from the rest of us? Half of Kuwait are bloggers, and half of those bloggers are as famous as he is- they’ve all voiced their opinions positively, negatively or neutrally. It’s what bloggers DO, and this isn’t news. He might have negatively reviewed numerous businesses, but he’s free to do so.

    Check out Mark’s “Benihana is Suing Me”. 250+ comments dude- roughly 98% of them are boycotting Benihana Kuwait not because of his bad review, but because of the GM’s actions.

    Mark did not BEG for support- he’s doing EXACTLY what all of us would be doing if we were put in his exact same situation.

  23. Media coverage on Benihana lawsuit - 2:48AM [The A-Sides] Says:

    [...] Fake Plastic Souks: Benihana Bashes Bloggers Trying to be Fahad: Defamation or Constructive Criticism? Catalyze: How not to respond to negative feedback Snow in Kuwait: 248AM Blogger getting sued [...]

  24. Alowaish Says:

    Again, if you read my comments, you will see that I have called the suit retarded. Repeatedly.

  25. AlGhunaim Says:

    I agree with Alowaish.

    plus, TheRex mark needed to have a taste of his own medicine .. shweya bs :)

    The lawsuit however should be dropped, its sad.

  26. TheRex Says:

    In my humble opinion he is playing the “I got sued, and if you dont support me so will you” card. How Machiavellian of him, right?

    Scaremongering is such a right wing tactic. Boo.

    Rampurple

    As I said, I fully respect your brothers right to be an agent of apathy, and if you think thats bad, you should read Stalin’s comment about your brother, “Mark is just another typical colonizing British fag living in the GCC.”

    Ahmad

    He’s lebanese, but nonetheless, Salute Comrade.

  27. Rampurple Says:

    LOL ya I saw Ahmed’s comment and its not worth commenting on. Marks not British and that’s that.

    What I think is interesting and funny is that, even I, as his sister, when I read his reviews or experiences, I do not take it as “if Mark says its bad, then it must be bad”
    Reviews and experiences and written on personal views. I would think “Mark didn’t really like this place, but I’d like to see for myself”

    In history, there has not been any business that has been severed by a review. Reviews may help spread the word when it is a good review, but it can’t kill you.

    Also, what is the difference between Mark saying on his blog that he did not like Benihana compared to Mark sitting in a diwaniya saying he did not look Benihana? A larger audience? Talk in diwaniyas spread through word of mouth… just not as fast as it would on a blog. Same effect though…

  28. Alowaish Says:

    Also, what is the difference between Mark saying on his blog that he did not like Benihana compared to Mark sitting in a diwaniya saying he did not look Benihana? A larger audience? Talk in diwaniyas spread through word of mouth… just not as fast as it would on a blog. Same effect though…

    Big difference. Not only is it the larger audience which you spoke about, but Mark is sort of a public figure and not just in the blogosphere. A lot of folks DO take his word as gospel. Mark saying it on his blog and not in a dowaneya as you have pointed out is akin to an MP thrashing a minister to a local reporter, and not at his local dowaneya. See the difference there?

  29. Anonymous Says:

    Alowaish, in some countries there are food critics who are feared by restaurants because these critics will give them harsh bad write up if they did not like the food. These write ups are published in magazines and newspapers… who most likely have a bigger audience than 248am. I don’t see anyone suing them!? It’s freedom of speech and opinion… the audience size DOES NOT MATTER unless its slander, which isn’t the case here. If they cannot handle criticism, they should not be in business. Simple as that!

    And what Benihana is doing is not “giving him a taste of his own medicine”… I cannot see how that even fits. He did not like the food, he said so. Suing him is an unprofessional petty response.

  30. Alowaish Says:

    While this is true and there are in fact food critics who are feared and have a much wider audience than 248am, they do not moonlight as creative directors for ad agencies that handle some of Benihana’s competitors.

    If you read the suit, like I did, you will see that they did not sue Mark the blogger, they in fact sued Mark the person and his ad agency.

    While I agree that the initial suit has no merit because the post is in fact not slanderous, the fake account that was created on Twitter (@BenihanaKUWPR) – which Mark approved of and RT on several occasions, even going so far as to post pictures of funny messages his coworkers sent him – is very much the definition of slander and defamation, as well as unprofessionalism.

    As an aside, I find it hilarious that you call Benihana’s suit petty and unprofessional while not even examining the fact that there is a parody account created because of this very suit, which, once again, is the definition of “petty unprofessionalism.”

  31. Tweets that mention Benihana: Defamation or Constructive Criticism? -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bodie Brodaus, Fahad Al Yehya. Fahad Al Yehya said: Defamation or Constructive Criticism? http://bit.ly/eUEvzh #BenihanaKUW [...]

  32. tazmanian Submarine Says:

    Are they serious??

    I see a huge backlash to this. They want to control freedom of speach???
    Or do they have something to hide???
    Weak benihana very weak..
    With mark review i wanted to go try for myself and judge, with your lawsuit, i will surely not step inside your place…

  33. FAHAD Says:

    tazmanian Submarine: I went after Mark’s review and absolutely loved the food.

  34. sara Says:

    i just wanted to mention that mark is not being sued for his review, he is being sued for a big mistake that he did but i can’t say what coz its illegal gabul el court day. i promise its not because of the review. so plz stop enkom you say things that are not true , if he didn’t do anything wrong why is he scared from the law-sue. as i heard its not just benihana , its more than 29 people who want to sue him now with documentation and proof and everything of what he did. all that am saying is the truth will show in the end
    thank

  35. sara Says:

    you and sorry etha thayagt a7ad , but this is what i know and what am sure about

  36. FAHAD Says:

    sara: thank you for the clarification. We’re all pretty much kept in the dark and don’t really know who to believe. What we do believe is what’s right infront of us, which puts Mark at an advantage.

    In my opinion, Mark has done so much for the blogging community. He ignited blogging in Kuwait and the Middle East. For that, he deserves my support. In addition, I believe in supporting friends in times of crisis.

    Again, thank you for your input Sara :) .

  37. Yaro Says:

    Who cares. ‘mark 248am’ is a tedious Lebanese asshole who appears to think his inane 3x a day blogs are interesting. His pathetic blog is just a vanity project. Fuck him.

  38. Yaro Says:

    Did I mention ‘mark 248am’ is a trendy self-important Lebanese asshole with nothing to say?

  39. Yaro Says:

    Definition of a Lebanese.

    Lebanese (Leb, Lebo): An Arab in denial.

    1. I’m not Arab, I’m Lebanese and this makes me sleep better at night.

    2. 1. I’m not Arab, I’m Phoenician and this makes me sleep better at night.

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