Is Yelp Fair to Restaurants?
Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last December, when Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern called Yelp a "forum for uninformed morons" on his podcast Go Fork Yourself, the controversy over the local business rating community site re-surfaced once again.
Accused of removing or hiding negative reviews for companies that advertise, Yelpers using their "Elite" status to get free food or preferential treatment, and some users abusing the system by blackmailing restaurants, the company has seen its fair share of bad press. What do Valley chefs and restaurateurs think about Yelp? Here's what a few of them had to say:
Yelp is a double-edged sword. For diners, it's a valuable resource, especially when traveling. For restaurants, bad reviews can really hurt your business but good reviews can work in your favor. Unfortunately, there are some Yelpers who really have no idea what they're talking about, don't know food, and just like to write nasty reviews. Those people are a nightmare for restaurants.
Yelp is not fair to anyone, including its reviewers. Yelp wants to be free speech, then let it be heard. Good or bad.
It's not Yelp, it's the people. Bottom line, I think it's fair. Listen, I had to take a whole lot of crap when I first opened in Scottsdale -- bad service, etc. I took it like a champ, and admittedly, it was well deserved. Problem solved. I think most chefs hate Yelp, but most foodies love it.
It's fair as long as they continue to monitor reviews for legitimacy. It could also be improved if they guided reviewers with a scoring standard that converts their experience into a more objective review.