COVID-19

Restaurant owners to Yelp reviewers: Be considerate!

Jasmine Garsd Jul 16, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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Diners peruse a menu at a Maryland restaurant. Many Yelp reviewers' unrestrained criticism is another stress factor for struggling eateries. Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Restaurant owners to Yelp reviewers: Be considerate!

Jasmine Garsd Jul 16, 2020
Diners peruse a menu at a Maryland restaurant. Many Yelp reviewers' unrestrained criticism is another stress factor for struggling eateries. Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

A negative review on the community site Yelp can hurt a restaurant’s business. 

For years, the restaurant industry has complained about what it says is lack of moderation on the site: Anyone can say they had a bad experience, with no consequences.

Now, during the pandemic, with most restaurants switching to takeout and struggling to stay afloat, many owners and workers are saying that a bad Yelp review hurts more than ever, and … Yelp needs to really step up its game.

Joshua Chaisson is a bartender and food industry organizer in Portland, Maine. He said, “A real negative tear-down sort of review can be really disastrous both for ownership and, of course, for the workers themselves.”

And for an industry that lost about $120 billion just in the first three months of the COVID-19 shutdown, every customer counts.

Paulie Giannone, in Brooklyn, who goes by Paulie G., owns several pizzerias. He’s gotten quite a few mean Yelp reviews, like one customer who called a takeout cashier a “hipster window boy.” “First of all, don’t call a man a boy. OK?” said Paulie G. “Have some empathy. In this time for people to be slamming restaurants, who are struggling just to keep their doors open — forget about making money. You know, people should … people should go easy.”

Recently, Yelp posted this advice to reviewers on its website: “Many restaurants are experiencing more takeout and delivery orders than ever before. Be understanding, considerate, and support your local businesses.”  

But Chaisson said that now more than ever, Yelp should take some responsibility for what is written on its site.

Paulie G. said most of his reviews are good, and he’s trying to take the knocks with a dash of humor. He recently got his cashier a T-shirt to wear at work. 

It reads, “hipster window boy.”

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

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On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced changes to how the federal government is distributing vaccine doses. The CDC has expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone 65 and older, along with people with conditions that might raise their risks of complications from COVID-19. The new approach also looks to reward those states that are the most efficient by giving them more doses, but critics say that won’t address underlying problems some states are having with vaccine rollout.

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A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

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