FOODĒ's First Year on Earth

Day 361: Interesting Read.

You know how I feel about websites like Yelp.  I’ve devoted time to the my feelings about it on this blog in the past, which is why I want to pass along this article I saw in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

I hope you enjoy the read.


2 responses

  1. Arnold

    Meh. This sort of thing is just childish lashing out. Even the restaurant’s owner/manager/whoever apologized for his actions later, realizing they were inappropriate.

    Not everyone has to like your restaurant. From your Yelp page, quite a lot of people do. But that doesn’t mean that the people who don’t like it don’t have a right to voice their opinion. Some of them will have valuable feedback, many others won’t. It’s impossible, but the best thing you can do is try not to take it personally. I get anonymous evaluations all the time in my career, and it’s incredibly unpleasant to read the negative feedback. But I go through it, see what I think is valid and see what I think is just ranting. I try to take the valid critiques and understand what I can do to fix them, and I try to ignore the rants. I’d be lying if I said some of them didn’t stick with me years later, but even the rants were honest expressions of my interaction with the person. They’re entitled to do so if they so choose, just like the ones who give me positive feedback are.

    I don’t know if you all watch Kitchen Nightmares/Restaurant Impossible, but one thing that comes up in literally every episode is the owners assert that everyone they talk to loves their restaurant and they can’t understand why it’s empty. “Everyone loves the (insert the dish that makes Gordon wretch here).” Because no one will tell you negative things to you. Whether it’s politeness, conformity to some sort of social norms, or a fear of confrontation, people will say “It was great.” But on Yelp you get a far more honest, and less pleasant set of feedback.

    You’re evaluated every day by every customer who comes into your store. Some of them use completely arbitrary criteria, some of them are just having a bad day and are annoyed that the waitress looked at them the wrong way, some of them have legitimate reasons for not enjoying their experience. But the reality is that the restaurant owners don’t get to decide which category those people fit into, and my assumption is that the average Yelp user (especially in a town like Fredericksburg where most restaurants don’t get many reviews) takes the time to read a handful of positive and negative reviews to see if it sounds like a place they want to go. Some people might complain your restaurant is too small and doesn’t offer the ambiance they like. Others might like the laid back community environment you all have done an excellent job of cultivating. Some may like the freshness of the food, others may be bothered when you run out of whatever they wanted that day. Some may think the prices are too high, some may think it’s worth an extra couple dollars for fresh food prepared by expert chefs. You can disagree with them, people like the owner of Boners BBQ may even lash out, but at the end of the day people are entitled to their opinions about restaurants. And as long as it’s not done maliciously they’re entitled to post them on Yelp.

    At the end of the day, the success of a restaurant is ultimately measured by how many people walk in the door. You all are apparently doing an excellent job of that, and are entering your second year of running a restaurant you both can be (and should be) very proud of. If a handful of people disagree with what you’re doing, it’s their prerogative. And it’s your prerogative to keep doing what you all do well and what has given you such success over the first year (and in my opinion any restaurant who makes it to a second year, especially in a time when people are cutting back on luxuries like eating out at restaurants, is a huge success).

    Congrats on year one, and best of luck in year two and beyond!

    January 17, 2012 at 9:56 pm

  2. Arnold

    (BTW – when I said “this sort of thing” I meant the actions of the owners of the restaurant in the article, not you all. I think that was clear, but I wanted to be 100% clear that I wasn’t referring to you all)

    January 17, 2012 at 9:57 pm

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