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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Restaurateurs and Yelpers: Now Friends but Not BFFs

Posted By on Tue, Oct 25, 2011 at 8:37 AM

Not exactly BFFs.
  • Not exactly BFFs.
Not exactly BFFs.
​It's been a few years since Delfina Pizzeria printed up T-shirts with its one-star Yelp reviews, and the tension between restaurateurs and Yelpers seems to have simmered down, reports the Chicago Tribune this week.

But that doesn't mean restaurateurs have learned to love the site. Yelp now has 63 million unique visitors every month and is preparing to go public, and so restaurateurs have learned to keep mum on their concerns:

Mostly, restaurants have learned to shut up.: When I contacted one restaurant owner about his stance against the site -- a Bay Area cafe that posted a "No Yelpers" sticker -- he said: "I've learned not to talk. When I do, I get horrible reviews." (He asked that I not mention his restaurant by name.) Which, depending how you see it, may be more pragmatic than frightened.

Actually, Yelp's increasing volume works in restaurants' favor. The Tribune reports that frequent Yelpers are more measured in their criticism than one-timers, and batshit comments get swallowed up in a fog of "Really nice waiters, get the chicken pops!!!" posts. 

Besides, does anyone read a comment like "Everything about the restaurant is pretentious. Service is cold and the decor is God awful... feels like a mildly-retarded robot designed it" and think, well, crap! I won't go there! No, you look at the star rating, you look at how many people rated the place, and then you skim the reviews for dishes other Yelpers tell you to order. The only people offended by a dismissive insult: the restaurateurs themselves.

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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Jonathan Kauffman


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