If you want to make a chef or restaurateur bristle, just mention Yelp. Of the first 20-plus people contacted to discuss their opinions of the review site, not one was willing to open up, most likely out of fear of “poking the beast,” as one publicist put it.
Then a light bulb went off: Call the bar owner who has clocked 19 years in the industry and once told Eater DC that Yelp is often “highjacked by idiots.”
“Getting mad about a bad Yelp review is like getting mad at people at an S&M convention for beating each other,” says Derek Brown, founder of the Columbia Room and three other bars in Shaw. “The medium is designed to be a complaint factory.”
In reality, of the more than 71 million reviews posted on Yelp worldwide, only 22 percent are two stars or less (out of five), according to recent data from the site. But those harsh reviews can do some damage, and restaurants are especially vulnerable.