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The Comedy of the 1 Star Yelp Review

The following are actual comments and all were part of a 1-Star Restaurant Review in Fresno:

“The restaurant’s Grand Opening was on my birthday”

“There were no vegetarian entrée’s…so I left the restaurant”

“We heard this restaurant was the best in town and always busy. We hadn’t eaten all day and were starving and drove a long way from out of town. We didn’t have a reservation, but we decided to wing-it”

 “My boyfriend just got out of prison and we were looking for somewhere special to go”

The French Laundry 1-Star Review

First off, I do not look at Yelp to help me decide where to eat. I read Yelp reviews for entertainment. I don’t know the reviewer, their qualifications, or the frequency of their dining. Therefore, Yelp is not a credible source of information for me. The reviews aren’t verified, they are simply democratized, giving everyone an equal voice to say stupid things.

Take The French Laundry reviews for instance. Yes, even The French Laundry in Yountville/Napa has 1-Star Reviews, several actually. One of the reviews is summed up in 2 sentences, certainly an in-depth and scholarly review.

The Laundry also has several 1-Star Reviews based upon the fact that a reviewer couldn’t get a reservation there. No kidding? The restaurant books up one month in advance and has done so now for over 10 years. Get a clue!

The Laundry also has several complaints for being overpriced. Really? An expensive dinner at The French Laundry? You don’t say.

Like I said, Yelp reviews are entertainment, nothing more. As such, I’d like to highlight a few entertaining reviews and themes of the Fresno restaurant reviewer.

The Special Occasion Dinner combined with High Expectations

“We were so excited about going to the Bon Jovi concert after dinner”

“It was our first time at this restaurant and it will be our last”

The Fresno reviewer is often specific about the event and the emotions surrounding the event for which they are celebrating with a dinner at a restaurant; “It was my husband’s 50th birthday” or “It was our anniversary”.  Even better, “It was Valentine’s Day, Christmas Eve, Easter Sunday and we couldn’t believe how busy it was”.

You’re an idiot if you think it won’t be busy at a restaurant on Valentine’s Day. The WORST restaurant in Fresno will be busy on Valentine’s Day. The worst restaurant in Antarctica will be busy on Valentine's Day. Morons.

Often the 50th Birthday or Valentine's Day dinner is combined with another key piece of information “it was our first time dining at this highly rated restaurant” or “all the reviews said this place was the best.” So a double whammy of your special occasion combined with high expectations concluding in the ultimate letdown and the inevitable 1-Star Review because "everything fell apart", "can't believe we were treated this way", "didn't pay attention to us".

To a credible restaurant reviewer, showing up to give a definitive review for a restaurant on Valentine’s Day or Christmas Eve is a joke.  Secondly, showing up on a single night and have that single night, define a restaurant forever is pedestrian and stupid, not professional. Thirdly, the reviewer’s birthday, anniversary or special occasion is a meaningless review item to everyone else except the reviewer. I want a restaurant to treat everyone, every day with a high level of service and food quality, not just on my birthday. I want to feel special every time I walk into a restaurant, regardless of the occasion.

Do you know how important I am?

Another popular 1-Star review commentary in Fresno (and other places) is the oh so important “I’ve been coming to the restaurant for years” or “I regularly come here for business meetings”.

The 'I'm a big thing' type of 1-Star review seemingly gives credibility to the reviewer with the ignorant or ill-informed Yelp reader.  How does one verify that the reviewer has been going to the restaurant they reviewed for “years”?

Faith? Jedi Powers?

How many visits to the restaurant has the reviewer taken? Two? Three? 50? Am I supposed to take 'the big shot reviewer's' word for it? Has the reviewer left any critical information out? Was the reviewers 8-top table on time for their reservation or were they 40 minutes late? Did they bring an infant to the dinner? Was everyone around the table an "exception"? Meaning, gluten-free, shellfish allergy, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, nut free? Or in the words of Pearl Jam, "center of their own attention" type of table?

Remember, there's always another side to the story and on Yelp we rarely hear the other side of the story...the restaurant side of the story.

Why? Because there's generally no upside for the restaurant to write a rebuttal. Simple cost/benefit analysis. 

Fresnans want BIGGER portions for LESS money and MORE Parking

“The restaurant is overpriced for (take your pick): the small portions, a small sandwich, ratio of meat to bread, a bowl of pasta, a steak”

“I’ve had better: pasta, sandwiches, burgers at…Olive Garden, Subway, McDonalds”

“This review is NOT based on the food. There was no parking. So we left.”

Parking seems to be an issue with Fresnans. In fact, some 1-Star reviews of restaurants never make it out of the parking lot. No discussion of food and service, so I have no idea if the reviewer has eaten the food, because all they mentioned in the review was a lack of parking. Try living in San Francisco or New York; there is never any parking. 

The 1 Star No Parking review is useless in grading the restaurant. It's informative, that's all.

I don’t really know what to say about the perceived value question, other than returning to my introduction about The French Laundry. Everyone should know by now that The French Laundry is very, very expensive. If you think that all meals should be judged by the portions you serve yourself at home (rather than by quality of ingredients or skill in cooking a meal sous vide) and the price you pay at Costco, then you probably shouldn’t go out to dinner.

How much meat do you need in your sandwich to justify a $5 or $8 price tag for a sandwich? A pound of meat? You do know that the deli needs to make a profit, right? And pay employees to make it? And pay their lease? I hear what you’re saying 'Mr. Value for the Money' 1-Star Reviewer, you want to buy a sandwich from the best deli in town, with one pound of meat, with all the toppings on a soft-Subway style roll for the cost of the sandwich and nothing more? Hate to break it to you…ain’t gonna happen.

I'm tired of your complaining! So I have a suggestion Mr. Subway/Macaroni Grill/Chipotle Guy. Since you can buy food at the grocery store cheaper and I’m sure you do a great job of cooking tri-tip at home or you buy your deli meat from Food-Maxx in a 5 pound pre-sealed plastic bag; I would suggest making yourself a sandwich at home and taking it to work, since your home-made Sammy is better than the Fresno deli you went to today. 

But of course the same person that had the 'Best sandwich EVER at Subway last week, because it's a great value', also drinks a Venti drip coffee from Starbucks and buys bottled water by the case at Costco. You know, because there's great 'value for the money' at Starbucks and in bottled water.

I’d like to thank Yelp and Fresno for helping me laugh a little this week.

Just so everyone knows…“My boyfriend just got out of prison and we were looking for somewhere special to go” is not a real comment on Yelp. This one is a joke, but I wanted it to be true…I made this one up. But maybe, I just didn’t look long and hard enough. I should have checked Yelp Folsom or Corcoran, CA.

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    Wow what a great review has been presented over here i am extremely happy to go through it. And by the way your restaurant opening that too on your birthday, is like a hidden surprise to you i guess.

Reader Comments (2)

Congrats, this is so true!

March 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEugen @ Munch Ado

I didn't read your post, being it is Passover and you have "ham" in your blogs title I felt I should pass on reading it. 1 Star for you!

April 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAJL

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