Restaurant and bar owners are often captivated by online reviews. Yelp's eponymous chatter on the street can seem an invaluable resource for knowing what customers think. I used to pay attention with great interest. I even contacted particularly upset reviewers at previous establishments I'd worked and offered them either a free meal or drink when we erred. I get it: restaurants and bars are loaded with miscues, mistakes, and bad behavior. We're staffed with humans doing imperfect work and, no matter how well-trained our staffs are, the human factor always peers through. So my sympathy for the customer is great.
Recently, something changed. Not my sympathy for the customer but for the reviewer. Perhaps it's the Yelper I sent a private message asking if she's actually been to my bar. By all indications they'd placed the wrong review on the wrong site. Seems innocent enough, but what if that's how a potential customer makes their decision of whether or not to go to your restaurant or bar?
There's also occasional incidents of Yelp terrorism. Much like a terrorist, bomb strapped to chest, this is when customers threaten to unleash their criticism online when demands are not met, regardless of the veracity of their claim. But the final straw really happened when I turned to Yelp reviews of well-regarded places that I've been. While looking through those reviews, I noticed a flock of reviews lacking rigor, ethics, and discretion. They completely missed the mark. Are these reviews what people are basing their dining decisions on?