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Community comes to Toronto restaurant's defence after one-star review on Christmas Day

A Toronto restaurant has received many words of kindness and support after they received an unfair one-star review on Christmas morning.

Chris Harbalis owner of the Rosemary & Thyme restaurant in Scarborough decided this year to open for a breakfast shift on Christmas morning, knowing that many of his regular customers would be alone on the holiday.

"It is a hard time for some people, we thought opening our doors would help people out," he said.

He did not force any of his staff to work on the holiday, offering them the opportunity to come in if they liked. This of course led to the restaurant being a little short-staffed that day.

What Harbalis didn't expect was the number of people who decided to grab some Christmas breakfast, meaning customers had to wait a bit longer than usual, but nothing drastic.

After a long morning of cooking and providing warm meals for the community, Harbalis was shocked to learn a customer had left a one-star review of their experience, despite his effort to make the holiday special.

That customer indicated on their Google review that they decided to come to Rosemary & Thyme for a "nice Christmas lunch" and that despite a lineup, were seated "within five minutes."

The customer and their guest ordered two breakfasts and coffee and stated that although "the server was kind and the atmosphere was comforting," they ended up waiting for a little over an hour for the meals.

Harbalis denied the customers waited that long and told blogTO the server had already placed the meals on the table mere minutes before the pair walked out of the restaurant.

"I didn't even get to see [the customer] because I was in the back cooking, [the server] put his food down and he didn't end up coming back," he said.

The review certainly was a shock to Harbalis and his dedicated staff who gave up their Christmas morning to provide a service to the neighbourhood.

"After the review, it was heartbreaking, we wanted to do something really nice for everybody and to get something like that - that was the only review too - to hear that at the end of the day, it sucked," he said.

Harbalis decided to share the review and his thoughts about the situation on the restaurant's social media channels.

"Our staff, our servers, cooks and myself, we chose to be open on Christmas Day to serve you instead of being home with our families, because we love what we do and love sharing this with our customers, many were families and friends who chose to celebrate Christmas Day at Rosemary and Thyme," read part of his caption.

He went on to explain the unfortunate situation and wrote: "Just a reminder this Holiday Season and always..BE KIND. It's free and will make everyone's day better."

But what happened next supplied just enough Christmas joy to turn the situation around.

Tons of customers and clients came to Rosemary & Thyme's defence, sharing that they've been on numerous occasions and always had a great experience with even better food.

"I would have been grateful for the fact you were open in the first place. Everything is closed on Christmas; so to have a restaurant that cares more to go to serve others is a win in my opinion," read one such comment.

Local restaurants also commented on the post including Mercado and the former Wish Restaurant.

"We got a really good response from people in the community, response from restaurants too,” he said while adding that the "very heartwarming messages" were incredibly nice to see.

While the negative review did dampen the holiday mood, Harbalis said the other customers enjoyed themselves and that the overwhelming support was enough to turn the situation around.

"Overall it was great, it was just that one thing that kind of ruined the day but it did not ruin the whole celebration," he said.

Lead photo by

Rosemary and Thyme


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