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COVID-19

Restaurant owners to Yelp reviewers: Be considerate!

Jasmine Garsd Jul 16, 2020
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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
Heard on:
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

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

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