Italian Restaurant Encourages Bad Reviews on Yelp

December 20, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. notorious /noʊˈtɔr i əs, -ˈtoʊr-, nə-/ (adj.) – known or famous in a bad way
Example: The cafe near the Bay Area is notorious for bad-tasting cakes.

2. revenue /ˈrɛv ənˌyu, -əˌnu/ (n.) – money earned from a business
Example: Our restaurant’s revenue is growing because of our advertisements.

3. sarcastic /sɑrˈkæs tɪk/ (adj.) – a quality that uses irony or words that mean the opposite
Example: Giving out sarcastic comments is her way of making people laugh.

4. consider /kənˈsɪd ər/ (v.) – to carefully think about something for a specific purpose
Example: We have considered which restaurant is going to host our party.

5. censure /ˈsɛn ʃər/ (v.) – to show or provide disapproval on something
Example: The store was censured by the government because of its overpriced products.


Read the text below.
An Italian restaurant in Richmond, California, made an interesting move in order to sever ties with Yelp, an online review website.

Botto Bistro’s Yelp listing has become notorious. As a protest to Yelp’s policies, the bistro came up with an idea of offering a 25-percent discount for its pizza to anyone who can give them a one-star review on the listing site. Until now, Botto Bistro is the worst-reviewed restaurant and is still receiving sarcastic and crazy feedback.

A couple of years ago, owners Davide Cerretini and Michele Massimo bought ads from Yelp for $270. According to the owners, their purchase was done simply to stop the insistent calls from Yelp’s advertising sales staff. However, the ads failed to create revenue for the restaurant and the owners decided to discontinue.

After a few months, the owners were frustrated because ads from competitors were appearing on Botto Bistro’s listing. The owners requested to have their page removed but was told that this would violate Yelp’s policies. Vince Sollitto, the head of communications for Yelp, explained that they are required to provide a listing of the top Italian restaurants based on reviews and sell ads to similar businesses that want to be considered.

Botto Bistro’s negative reviews were censured by Yelp, as well as reviews that violate the site’s policies. Nevertheless, the restaurant had more than 1,300 one-star reviews, which resulted in a successful publicity campaign.

Amidst Botto Bistro’s negative campaign, Yelp upheld its policies and continued displaying the restaurant’s page. However, it added the page to the list of consumer alerts for fake reviews.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think online reviews, such as Yelp, are reliable sources of feedback for businesses? Why or why not?
·         Do you agree with the actions done by the owners? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         How do you think companies can improve their reviews?
·         What kind of service (in a restaurant) do you think deserves a five-star review?

December 20, 2014