Yelp Versus the Restaurateur—Read and Discuss

Luther Lowe, Manager of Local Business Outreach for Yelp, chimes in on the great Yelp debate. (Image courtesy of

In an article on, Kay Logsdon updated us on the Yelp vs. the restaurateur debate—specifically whether online reviews via Yelp (and, eh-hem, other sources) are a good or a bad thing? The following is the opening excerpt from her article:

It was the food fight of the year. The tall, wavy-haired young marketing genius vs. the wiry, shaved-headed young chef. Both technically-savvy. Both heavily invested in the food business. Both opinionated.

In this corner, Luther Lowe, Manager of Local Business Outreach for the popular ratings powerhouse, Yelp.

And, in that corner, Stefan Richter (photo, right), the Finnish chef who was a runner-up on the fifth season of Top Chef, and owner of Stefan’s European Catering, Stefan’s at L.A. Farm, and Stefan’s Steakhouse (in Finland).

In the audience? Restaurant owners and operators who have a definite stake in the game. These are the people whose very livelihood can be impacted by a negative or positive review of their restaurant, and those online ratings can be important to attracting new customers. How popular is Yelp? The site this week passed a significant milestone: its 20 millionth review was posted.

The drama was all part of the great debate showcased at the National Restaurant Association’s session: Are Online Reviews a Good or Bad Thing?…

Click here to read the whole article. Then come back so that we can discuss…


  • Chris

    More words wasted re: Yelp. The sooner people accept Yelp, the sooner we can move along and gawk at the next thing.

    Name an object or service that you can purchase that ISN’T reviewed in a crowd-sourced manner online.

  • Borborygmus

    Chris, if you notice, there is a link at the end of the article, it leads you to what the writer took away from the debate.

    Which is basically, you can’t put the social media genie back in the bottle. Treat every guest as if they were a Yelper or Nancy.

  • 4xTex

    Seems to me that on line critics are here to stay. Good,bad or indifferent. But it needs to be more regulated by the publishing source so that competitors and people with an axe to grind are weeded out. Their true agenda is to hurt the business or ruin a reputation. When you have to create an online registration it should be checked out and there should be only one avatar per ip address. I know of several people that use more than 1 name to post and I have seen places that manipulate the system by deletting cookies so they can vote or comment again and again. While all critics are equal online, so critics are more equal than others……..

  • slade

    I YELP! and I also find it useful. In fact I’m YELPing about lobster bake at The Commissary later this evening. Just finishing the edits.

  • Monica

    I find Yelp particularly helpful when visiting another town. When I leave Dallas, I no longer have the benefit of the food blog(s) I read regularly or the opinions of my friends. Yelp has given me information about great local finds. Otherwise, I might be a bit inclined to take the path of least resistance and play it safe with a chain restaurant. I understand that owning and running a restaurant is already a time consuming job and managing an online presence is additonally burdensome, but it can be an inexpensive way to build your brand and bring in customers. If you have many Yelp reviews, the average of them should be a pretty good representation of the restaurant, so you end up with a customer who has appropriate expectations for what your restaurant will provide. That seems like a good thing…