Manchester restaurant flooded with brutal one-star reviews after ‘banning’ pugs from photo competition

A Manchester restaurant has received almost 500 one-star reviews in less than 24 hours after it ‘banned’ pugs from entering a pet photo competition.

On Sunday, local burger chain Solita asked followers to send in photos of their pets for a chance to win a free lunch for two – but said pugs, rabbits and rats could not enter the competition because ‘we don’t like them’.

A post on Solita’s Facebook page read: “It’s been ages since we had a Sunday night pet photo comp…usual rules apply, best pic of your pet. No pugs, rabbits or rats. (We don’t like them) Best pic wins lunch for 2.”

The post quickly went viral and caused furious backlash from owners of the shunned animals, who responded by giving the restaurant 493 savage 1* reviews on the social media site in less than 24 hours.

Although some now appear to have been deleted, the restaurant – which has branches in Didsbury, Northern Quarter, Preston and Prestwich – currently has 505 one star reviews on Facebook compared to just 21 before the incident. This gives Solita an overall rating of 3.6.

One review read: “You need to get a better marketing team because this contest is disgusting and done in poor taste! OK, you want to discriminate against certain animals?

“Well, I hope you get discriminated against! If I’m ever in the area of your place, I would never set foot in it, even if I was starving! Everyone I know I will tell not to eat there! Shame on you guys!” 

Another review by pug owner Jenny Mason said:“You have basically just called my baby ugly!!! How dare you.

“I wouldn’t mind but I bet she is better looking than you!! By the way she wouldn’t touch your smelly food and she doesn’t like you either, you’re not even worth a puggy sneeze.”

Sandra Hopper, also a pug owner, wrote: “How dare you disrespect my pugs. You may not like them you make think them ugly but at least they don’t have ugly hearts. I would not patronise your restaurant if the food was free nor would I attempt to feed it to my dogs!”

Many pet owners accused the restaurant of discrimination, questioning how far they would take their ‘tongue in cheek’ joke. 

Claire Warris said: “What’s [the] next competition? your children but not disabled, etc , or what about of people , but only skinny people !!!!”

Helen Partington said: “Anyone who discriminates doesn’t deserve our business”, whilst other abusive reviews said the restaurant needed ‘closing down’ and that it was ‘racist’ towards rats.

One offended pet lover said that they hoped the restaurant owner would get ‘pooed on by all the pugs, rabbits and rats’, whilst another said Solita staff  ‘could take their food and choke on it’.  

Meanwhile, many pug, rat and rabbit owners defied the competition rules and shared photos of their pets on the original Facebook and Twitter posts, with some leaving angry comments of their own. 

However, others said it was wrong to trash a local business over a joke and came to the restaurant’s defence.

One Twitter user Danni Taylor said: “Absolutely pathetic. People need a sense of humour. I’ve eaten at your site loads and never had a bad meal I always enter your comps, never win though. Must be because I’m called Danni? BRB gonna leave a 1* review.”

On Facebook, Stephen Rocky Rowbottom gave the restaurant a five star review, saying: “One star reviewers, trashing someone’s business and the livelihoods of many employees over a remark about pugs and rats? Absolutely pathetic. Grow up.”



In a statement issued to the MEN, a director of Solita said: “Our competitions are often tongue in cheek and this week’s, as other weeks, was no different with pugs, rats and rabbits being excluded. Other weeks competitions have seen reptiles excluded for no particular reason.

“Last night’s competition however took a different slant, with pug and rat owners leaving one star Facebook reviews without dining at any of our restaurants.

“It wasn’t our intention to offend any person or animal and we apologise wholeheartedly if we have upset anyone. However, we believe that leaving one star reviews to a business that employs 200 local people is unfair.”



The statement added that all pets were welcome at Solita and that one of the directors was even a pug owner.

Nevertheless, some social media users have doubted the sincerity of the apology, pointing out that it hasn’t been published on Solita’s social media pages or website.

In fact, Solita’s Twitter page appears to see the funny side of the backlash.



On Monday evening it mocked one review that suggested pugs can read, and even directed its followers over to their Facebook page to find ‘more gems’. 

In the Facebook group Manchester Pug Mania, Katherine Evans-Cahill shared the reply she got from Sonita Preston which appeared to ridicule her complaint.

The email sarcastically referred to Katherine as ‘the spokeswomen for all pug owners in the UK’ and offered her the ‘deepest and most heartfelt’ of apologies.

It continued: “I am currently trying to get in touch with the head of the British Rat Appreciation society to extend my apologies to them too”.

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