A Sydney pub has taken down its Facebook page, after angry customers took to the social media platform to complain about an update to the venue’s dress code that bans patrons in trade-work gear.
The Village Inn in the Sydney suburb of Paddington was recently refurbished and changed its name from Durty Nelly’s.
Along with the refurbishment, the venue has introduced a new dress code, which prohibits patrons wearing “trade-work wear”.
Also banned are “runners or trainers, steel cap boots, open casual or soiled footwear, fancy dress, flannelette shirts, ripped or torn clothing, shorts, singlets, sportswear, caps or beanies … or soiled clothing, rats’ tails [and] mullets”.
Instead the pub has asked patrons to adhere to a dress code of “upscale fashionable attire”.
The new code sparked a flood of angry comments and one-star reviews on the venue’s Facebook page yesterday, after Karl Stefanovic and his co-hosts on the Nine’s morning Today show donned high-vis work vests to show solidarity with the tradies they said will no longer be able to order a beer at the pub.
“Tradies have been ostracised more and more and more in this country’s history,” Stefanovic said, according to Fairfax.
“Our country is built on the back of tradies and, not being allowed into a pub – are you serious?”
The Village Inn’s Facebook page appears to have been deleted, with SmartCompany unable to access the page this morning.
But “reviews” posted on the page yesterday accused the venue’s owner Leeroy Petersen of “class segregation”.
“Did the blokes that did your renovation know that they wouldn’t be allowed back for a beer?” one commenter wrote.
“Another wanker hipster establishment, imitating trends instead of creating them, discrimination against workers because all you want is idiots with beards and pretentious tattoos,” said another reviewer.
Another reviewer said the dress code means the pub will lose regular customers, and may run into problems when it needs a tradie to fix something at the venue.
“I hope your plumbing blocks up and your electrical wires burn out then your gyprock walls fall down then you won’t be able to fix any of it because tradies aren’t allowed in your precious little pub,” they said.
“Your loss we will catch up somewhere else on Friday arvo’s [sic].”
Even New South Wales Premier Mike Baird has gone into bat for the tradies, saying yesterday he thinks the dress code is “outrageous”.
“I’m with the construction guys,” Baird told the Daily Telegraph.
“Look, pubs can make their own decisions but that seems a very odd decision … I think the next opportunity, I’m going to go down there and make a point.”
However, a spokesperson for The Village Inn told SmartCompany this morning the dress code is not about banning tradies from the venue.
A statement from the venue’s owner Leeroy Petersen, which was provided to SmartCompany and has also been published his Facebook page, says The Village Inn’s dress code has been introduced “because of the experience we want to offer our clientele”.
“When I purchased the site in 2013, my dream was to reclaim the heritage of Paddington Village and create a respectable and sophisticated inn, targeting the local community and Paddington intersection,” Peterson said.
“I wanted to rebrand and reinvigorate the site to what it previously was, and create an inviting and appealing, family friendly offering for our community.”
Several Facebook commenters have posted messages of support on Peterson’s post, saying dress codes at venues are always at the discretion of the owner or manager.
“You are not in the wrong mate,” one person said.
“As a pub owner as well when you put your balls on the line and spend your hard working money on a refurb you are doing it for a reason. To get more customers.”
Social media and communications expert Catriona Pollard told SmartCompany for small businesses owners reacting to a large volume of complaints, deleting a Facebook profile often “feels like the best or easiest thing to do”.
But while Pollard says it might be appropriate to delete a page in some circumstances, she says business owners should be aware that deleting their page may mean having to “start from scratch” to rebuild a profile.
“You will have no likes, no history, nothing there,” she says.
Pollard recommends small businesses consider using other functions of their Facebook pages to deal with a flood of complaints, including disabling the “Posts to Page” function or possibly hiding particularly negative comments.
“You don’t want the page to be all about the one crisis point,” she says.