We’re all familiar with the stereotype of the scorned restaurant patron who takes to Yelp to angrily trash their meal, relishing in their latent power. But what happens on the other end of that Yelp review, to the person responsible for the quality of your dining experience? As part of our Amusing Bouche interview series, we asked 12 chefs to describe their feelings toward the ubiquitous review platform.
Ox & Son
I could give you a nice long diatribe about Yelp, or I could tell you that it actually helps us with the restaurant and it makes us better. But we’ve all heard both sides. I just wish there was a way to rate users on Yelp like Uber does. I’m a firm believer in constructive criticism but some people get pretty raw on there. It’s actually kind of great sometimes. I never knew people could get so upset over the littlest things…then again we are in L.A. I’m not too worried. I don’t think this Internet thing is going to take off.
It’s great for a business’ address and hours of operation.
Yelp can be pretty entertaining. I’ve definitely let it get to me in the past. The negative Yelper isn’t accidentally angry. If you can sort through all of the poor grammar and subjective slander, there is a lot to learn from misguided negativity. Everyone deserves to be heard, but some choose better platforms than others.
Cooks and Soldiers
Honestly, not a fan. It’s a public forum that people take too seriously. The issue is that people with absolutely no training or real knowledge of food and cuisine consider themselves food critics and blindly go around bashing businesses, thus potentially ruining their success. There are other forums out there (i.e. chefsfeed.com) that actually take the time to source other chefs and trained industry personnel to get feedback and reviews from. I just don’t like the idea only in this industry does Joe the mediocre plumber get a podium to judge me or my peers, stick to your own business and I’ll do the same, thanks!
Spoon and Stable
We have a small team of people who monitor all of the reviews online. We look for consistency in comments, either good or bad. Our goal is to always try and field these issues while they are still in our house, but often that is hard to do. We understand we cannot make everyone happy, but we will try our best to do so no matter what.
It’s a necessary evil. It gives people the power to badmouth restaurants anonymously. If someone’s had a bad experience I absolutely want to know about it, but there are other methods of letting us know and giving us the opportunity to rectify the situation without it being public. It has made everyone an “expert critic”… However, it is still my go to app for finding a spot in an area I’m unfamiliar with. Guilty.
Yelpers don’t always know much about food, but they usually know a lot about how a restaurant made them feel. So when they focus on the subjective aspects of their experience, I think they usually get it right, and manage to identify a lot of areas for restaurants to work on. When they try to speak with objectivity or authority, or assume that the one meal they had is representative of every meal the restaurant ever serves, their utility is questionable.
Yelp is a double-edged sword. It does help guide people to restaurants, but at the same time, it is an open forum for people to bash chefs and owners, sometimes ruining businesses.
Two of our most recent Yelp “reviews” for CBD Provisions are for a donut shop and a mechanic, for which I have no good explanation. They gave us one star each. Like with any sort of user-generated content, you have to take it all with a grain of salt. We’ll accept good, critical information from anywhere, Yelp included, but our favorite is when we receive direct guest feedback in the restaurant.
Like most chefs, I have a love/hate relationship with Yelp. It’s great when you see feedback from diners that really enjoyed themselves at your restaurant and have the ability to make immediate revisions based on constructive feedback. Though, you need to be careful and sometimes read between the lines with some of the comments. Overall, I’m just intrigued how such a successful company was built on convincing us to believe what complete strangers are telling us.
I never look at Yelp, but I make sure my restaurant managers do. We need to know if people are happy and if not what we can do to fix it.
Yelp is a great tool for the chef and restaurateur. While certain individual reviews can be inaccurate and even offensive, Yelp reviews give the restaurant operator an enormous amount of metadata. This information can be used to determine sales and service trends, as well as a general scope of quality assurance. I try and look at Yelp with the mind of a statistician rather than a chef, though I am not always able to remove myself from my ego.
MAKING A CHICKEN LIVER PASTA DISH WITH SOTTO’S CHEF STEVE SAMSON