How This Man Became TripAdvisor’s #1 Fake Restaurant!

I can't still now just like talking it now I can't believe it worked the food I'm serving them was was ultimately 99p Iceland microwavable ready meals but dressed up to look fancy just to visualise this is just in the back garden yeah the more I said to people I'm sorry we're fully booked the more they wanted a table and I just started saying like the most crazy like oh well I want a table on the 12th of May like okay well like how many Instagram fathers do you I collected these different version myself and decided to send them to all these TV interviews of me and it worked they sent a letter to boot little netted booze or maybe yes Anu a terminally ill you if anyone doesn't know who you are they probably have heard of some of you stunts yeah more so the shed stun should we start there is that what got you into this whole kind of game or were you doing it way before then yeah I mean I've always been like full of right and you're in the right place but yeah I guess yeah at first it wasn't really the beginning point but it was the one that she's the thing that kind of it kind of changed everything yeah when you can't afford to go to the shot without checking your background it's kind of fun not whiterose nice to be able to just like have a bit more freedom right you know so yeah that particular thing was basically I used to live in a garden shed in southeast London in college you actually lived in it yeah yeah yeah yes no I didn't know that okay so there's like a house share ruined I lived out the back in the shed that's like it's just like a landlord trying to get extra money oh no there is that's mental later work for you well yeah it was like but that was that I just did everything with it was like funny I moved in and like I said like I wrote an article for Vice at the time and I was like you know they is the perfect place it's the only spot in London that can't be gentrified and then I ended up like Jafar I got it registered there's a restaurant on TripAdvisor this was like April 2017 right then over the base of like six months usually not fake reviews and kind of building this online kind of like mystique around it got it to number one in the whole of London on to provider of the 18,000 restaurants but it didn't exist if we never even served the plate of food so what this we're your friends leaving reviews or were you doing him I so it's weird my history with writing fake TripAdvisor visas I used to do it for money like when I first started as a writer were all over the place here I like companies would pay you yeah well restaurants are restaurant owners really that can't be that can't be that's definitely not legal TripAdvisor I thought this way before I saw the video that you did I've thought to myself like surely like this is like a go-to tactic for for people like brat like a lot of sense wouldn't it yeah and even TripAdvisor now I don't this they probably don't it's wrong for me to say this or even to suggest there but why are they not getting restaurants onboard go and let if you pay us to be on the website will boot will boost you up just like Google ads and stuff like that they're like there's such a parties are such a powerful website though yeah like they're like built-in to I mean it looks like it's old-fashioned isn't it been designed and all you need is just an email and a password and I found that interesting yeah because I used to work in lot pubs and bike like I think everyone probably a and like when someone leaves a one-star TripAdvisor review in those environments it's like taken very seriously it's like it's like who left that like who was working that yeah who so to see that this thing was like so easily exploited was like oh and then I like TripAdvisor anyway because it's like a weird corner of the internet that's run by like whiny old introvert yeah no it's just like but he's a funny website because it's like everyone uses it the people who leave reviews tend to be a specific type of a person yeah yeah so like I like it as a space and I did this other thing where I tried to track down the like people who contra provide you leave one star reviews consistently right and then I invite them out for dinner with me and then I like reviewed them like they with the rest and this was all just for fun then right they supervise this was all right I was doing written articles right and these were all like bits and uh and then that made me even more interest about Trip Advisor as I was doing that I like ruffled a few feathers by asking them for information and I was like why are you guys okay G decided to start doing this yeah then it was like the gave birth the shed experiment I'm a termite in a pub and we were sort of taught that would have been like March 2017 and that was like where I always think like talking idea I'm sure you guys it's just like talking ideas through in a pub with people who aren't interested by your world or what you do is so helpful yes because I work they're not gonna be nice about crap ideas yeah and you get a unique perspective on it as well yeah yeah you don't want to surround yourself with yes-men by all my friends like from the real world yet they cannot stand over here but my lifelong mate Westies I don't use watch one at about six years and I don't blame em you know I mean I think that's the problem with youtubers these days they go and live in these big YouTube house it's full of all these yeah and then you get someone like Logan Paul vlogs a dead body because he doesn't know any different because of always maybe that's great man that's great content so you just need them kind of hear them real people to tell you otherwise so the shape of what Dulwich Dulwich had yes shared a village yeah how many unique reviews did you need to push yourself to number one no 96 96 reviews yes number one above 18,000 restaurant it must spend ninety six five star reviews whereas yeah well we yeah we had about about a about five or six of them were like four star but but the way it look on it's amazing isn't it yeah it's crazy but we I did it over the base of six months the reason I didn't do that my family and friends did them to answer your question right finally and I wrote like it's like kind of like manifesto of how to write a review about the shed yeah it was like you got to mention these things you man yeah it's like it's you eat that it's an appointment-only restaurant it's impossible to get a table like things that would create that kind of like exactly and I sent that off to like my family and friends to people I trusted it was like okay they aren't going to try and be too funny and really and that kind of thing and like slowly did it it was like I think if we'd have voted on 96 and a day there's no way there could have been life issues yeah exactly yeah I I can't still now just like talking right now I can't believe that it worked yeah so stupid okay it became the number one highest rated restaurant in London yeah this was November 1st like 2017 and then you actually opened it yeah so my idea was that nerve wracking it was ridiculous I mean the whole thing was like about two months now about eight weeks before I thought oh this is the best thing I've done started like covering more like so I always like I always saw the writing of the things cuz I've been doing this sort of thing for about since like November 2015 for the doing that's how I live been living writing articles and I always like took it seriously but I was like never really the video content I'd done for Vice I didn't really like that much not liked how with written stuff and I think you you have a freedom with this because you was you would make your own but I didn't have the skills to make my own stuff in the way that I could write so I had this team of people that I mean I didn't really like the video content I'd done up to that point and I was like okay two months before I was okay I should make a video this because this is good so I start filming all of the phone calls of hundreds of people bringing up the restaurant filming it on my laptop on my band night just taking the calls and like the more I said to people I'm sorry we're fully booked the more they wanted a table and then I just yeah and then I just started saying like the most crazy like oh well what a table on the 12th of May like okay well how many Instagram followers do you how big was this if this was your bedroom well this Studios not too similar maybe it maybe like an extra-extra studio of that way how many tables could you fit there okay right so the way I did it so so we got it to number one on the first in November 2017 then I had like two weeks basically two I wanted to set it up and the whole plan was this it was just like I want people I want people to leave I was like I wasn't almost thought I didn't wanna with people too much it was more about like I want them to leave thinking that this was London's best restaurant and so all the things were practical and meinem I liked one of my luck approaches I didn't put any of the tables in the place because it was it's it's an absolute Oh like a car like I had to leave eventually I left I moved out because there's like water going in the wash no it was outside so we got to the night and I'm just trying to sum it up as like simply as possible without going on for ages about it there's a video about it all like there's a 18 minute video you can get on the on voice and but but the night we've brought like I am eight real customers right so we had a table of two who were local we've been trying to get a table for like three months well they Instagram type would you say no more foodies okay they were like sure yeah yeah exactly okay so they were like they were foodies they were table of four from like one of London's biggest fashion agencies but I can't actually legally like go into that Wow they're like yeah so they're blurred in the video like they would be quite instagramming yeah but more like classy yeah and like then they're a table of two like Americans like newlyweds who are on their honeymoon and like the night before they've been in Paris eat and I'm not the banks of the sin just so I can visualize this is just in the back garden yeah right it was like it was November it was November rain that would be no video right yeah that was the calm just I'm just picturing like a washing line [Laughter] but I had like these plug these little plans of how I was gonna try and make it because if it is a it was a out like the game was all one of funniest images that was was like I saw was like one of the people from the fashion agency had stiletto heels on and like my deck in going this steps going up to the shed with a lot broken a lot fractured yeah I have to see in these the LEDs oh he just so mad but like so all I did all these things so I had a DJ playing like the sound of a restaurant I had like tables on the roof and like a ladder going up to them I had oh yeah so like you know like in like fancy restaurants you have like like you can pick your like a lobster yeah Miriam the I emptied like the Wendy house outside and filled it with chicken it was a chicken we were the number one rated vegetarian restaurant at the time which is yeah we had all this stuff going on and my idea was if there's enough weird going on they won't question it didn't know they won't think about the fact that the food I'm serving them was was ultimately 99p Iceland microwavable ready meals but dressed up to look fancy amazing so like that I was trying to distract them I keep them on there's enough people eating on the roof yeah there's enough going on yeah we might just make it and like Penniman like so the garden is in half sorry I'm going on but there's a lot to like go there's lots of paint I reckon mate trust me this is intrigue slowly just calling the police and like so half the garden is like is the house share is there half the other half is like my half and there's like a big black bush in between the two and so but to get the first half is like he's horrendous so dirty awful like it might as well be a junkyard there's not good abandon like norm over there like like a little little ashtray weed like you know an ashtray is so many cigarettes yeah starts to look like a Tracey Emin my face okay and it was so disgusting so my practical way around that was I blindfolded everyone I met em ah yeah met him on the street like around the corner and blindfolded them and like walk them down if you watch it I mean it's like it's so weird maybe that part of the experience yeah exactly but I was like that was practical if they see the first half of this garden they are not coming in this restaurant restaurant yeah and like so we got all this stuff and over eight real customers and then about eight people are employed actors who were just saying everything I serve them was delicious yeah so we had this like balance of real people and enough people trying to recreate that same psychological pressure of online everyone going like are this is a man yeah the real people might be like yeah this is amazing there and yeah we opened it for one night only and like for the customers tried to book again that is on microwave meals yeah what we talking about lasagnas inside a microwave red veggie lasagna but we like edible flowers and microbes on home

23 Replies to “How This Man Became TripAdvisor’s #1 Fake Restaurant!”

  1. Started listening to your podcasts whilst on holiday to pass the time, now I can’t get enough, love them xx

  2. Genuinely love your podcasts they’re always so interesting and you’re a great interviewer!! – but would love to see you have some more women on as guests!!

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