ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — Popular local restaurant review website and Facebook group St. Petersburg Foodies received an odd email on July 30. In it, a person named Linda Alvorado requested that the site update its listing for St. Pete hangout The Big Catch at Salt Creek with a new website link.
The only problem was, the link went to online food delivery service Restaurantji.com rather than the actual restaurant—and “Linda Alvorado” has no affiliation whatsoever with the restaurant itself, though the formatting of the email strongly implied that she does.
What You Need To Know
- Popular blog St. Petersburg Foodies recognized that an unsolicited email was not from a restaurant employee
- Online food delivery services often resort to underhanded measures to drive business
- Make sure your delivery service is working with and for your favorite restaurants
“I knew right away that it was false,” says St. Petersburg foodies founder Kevin Godbee. “But imagine if I didn’t know the owners and chefs of the restaurants. The signature says The Big Catch, with their address and phone number, and it implies that this is someone who is authorized to speak for the restaurant.”
The webscape is littered with online food delivery companies, and some of them have been busted for shady practices, as when Grubhub was called out for creating multiple fake websites to offer delivery from restaurants it hadn’t officially partnered with. These web businesses survive on the fees they charge for delivery, which can sometimes be outrageous (and cause customers to not tip the drivers, whether or not they think that charge is going to the driver, which it isn’t), and they’re willing to go to great and sometimes allegedly deceptive practices to drive business.
What really galls Godbee, however, is his perception that “Linda Alvorado” presented herself as a spokesperson for the restaurant itself.
“To say the least, yeah. It’s really something,” he says. “The reason it failed so miserably when it was sent to us is because St. Pete is such a tight-knit community, it’s almost like everybody knows everybody, at least within the restaurant industry.”
This isn’t the first time “Linda Alvorado” has reached out to St. Petersburg Foodies, which was founded in September 2016 and has since become a significant influence in St. Pete’s food scene. In May, the group received a nearly identical email asking to update the link for uber-hip downtown restaurant Brick & Mortar.
So the next time you’re in the mood for some delivery, consider which service you’re using and perhaps think about maybe going to pick up your meal. You’ll avoid a sometimes hefty delivery charge, make sure you’re getting what you ordered and let your local restaurant know you’re one of the people supporting their business.
Bay News 9 confirmed with The Big Catch at Salt Creek that no one named “Linda Alvorado” has ever been affiliated with the restaurant, which doesn’t even offer delivery in the first place. Neither “Linda Alvorado” nor Restaurantji.com responded to requests for comment.