Mario Bitoiu installed a sidewalk patio at Chameleon Restaurant on Maple Ridge’s main street last summer. (THE NEWS/files)

Mario Bitoiu installed a sidewalk patio at Chameleon Restaurant on Maple Ridge’s main street last summer. (THE NEWS/files)

UPDATED: Community rallies with Maple Ridge restaurateur

Downtown eaterie target of online campaign

Maple Ridge residents have rallied behind a downtown restaurant that was the target of a negative online campaign last week.

Chameleon had an influx of negative and one-star Facebook and Google reviews after a comment was posted on Himpower Facebook page by an employee who had been fired.

The worker didn’t intend on launching an online campaign against the restaurant, but one comment was enough to start the negative online campaign.

“He called me and apologized for what he’s done,” said owner Mario Bitoiu.

He asked the ex-employee to remove the negative reviews, but was told they couldn’t be taken down. The negative comments led to some slow days on Monday and Tuesday.

“It breaks our hearts after five years of striving to build a positive reputation and achieve an almost five-star rating to see it come tumbling down in one day. As a small, family-owned restaurant, this affects us deeply,” the restaurant said on Facebook.

The most frustrating part was that Facebook and Google wouldn’t do anything.

But thanks to supporters, those review scores have been turned around, business has bounced back and Facebook reviews are now up at 4.5, he added.

“People were coming to the restaurant and saying, ‘Hey, we just want to support you.’ That’s very nice of them to do that for sure.”

Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Dan Ruimy mentioned Chameleon on his “RuimyBusinessTrek,” saying the restaurant is part of a move towards offering trendy dining in Maple Ridge.

Peter Tam in Silver Valley Neighbours group advised people to click on the Chameleon Restaurant link and show support for the local business.

Kim Horn asked why people do such things.

“We have very much enjoyed Chameleon, one of my favourites, sorry to hear this,” added Athena Rai.

Wayne Bissky said Mario and Magda “are investing themselves wholeheartedly in the community. They deserve nothing but the best, including our full support. We are so grateful to have them here.”

“We love your restaurant. It is a pleasure to have a restaurant of your calibre in Maple Ridge. It is our go-to for special occasions and have enjoyed every meal,” said Renuka Preocanin.

Carol Bignell said she went through the same thing with her business. “People I never met posted negative reviews on my FB business page. Facebook won’t assist so I had to shut it down. It is so sad and tragic that this continues.”