Does Yelp help?

illustration by Mark STIVERS

I recently had the chance to sit down with a few restaurant owners and managers to throw back some beers. As we chatted, our conversation eventually turned to the topic of reviewers, particularly those on, and their effect on the restaurant industry. I was surprised at the reactions. Some were glad for Yelp, as some of the site’s more constructive, carefully written reviews could recognize a consistent problem that the restaurant was then able to identify and approach. Of course, others weren’t quite so pleased. It’s easy to write a bad review that simply lambastes a place, sometimes only a week after opening, before the restaurant has had a chance to work out its kinks. Sometimes, a review takes place on a night the chef was out for an emergency; this caused frustration. What everyone agreed on: If you have a complaint, wait to put it online. Instead, let the restaurant know while in person, so they can address it for you. They’ll appreciate the feedback and enjoy the dialogue it generates with customers.