Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Do You Hate the Yelper or Hate the Game?

So I've been debating on whether I should write this post for a while now. Since opening the restaurant two months ago, as expected, we have gotten our share of Yelp reviews. The majority have been great with strong neighborhood feedback and support. Some reviews... not so much. Let me first state that I am NEVER against a negative review. I believe in constructive criticism, I ask for it when I touch the tables of my guests. BUT what I am against is the anonymous bashing that happens on Yelp.  Guests, rather than speak with an owner or manager, go home and make salacious statements behind the protection of a made up user name and a random avatar.
My staff and friends have said, "N'Gina, don't take it personal!" "Don't justify their comments with responses." The administrators at Yelp hold the same attitude, but today after a talk with my Executive Chef Robert Birnschein, I changed my mind. He said, "N'Gina, defend yourself." He was right. Yelp gives people the platform to hit me below the belt and per Yelp's etiquette guidelines,  I am not allowed to defend myself, explain myself or simply say, "Ya know what...you have no idea what the fuck you are talking about!"
For eight years I have worked my ass off to get where I am. Sacrificing my family's financial security, doubting if the decisions I am making are the right ones. Up in the middle of the night silently in tears because I feel that I'm failing as a mother, business woman, wife, and daughter. Being an entrepreneur will make the strongest individual one insecure ass person. Livelihoods rest on my shoulders.
Every guest that walks through my door I fight for. I want to know how we can improve; I want to know how we can make your community better through our business. I've never been afraid to have a face to face conversation and learn from those that we provide a service to on how to be better. Know that about me, but from this point forward I will not tolerate the anonymous Yelper. Your cowardly reviews, filled with bullish statements, demeaning comments and overall lack of tack is disgusting. You are the reason restaurateurs hate Yelp. If you do not like something that a company is doing have the chutzpah to talk to someone that can change it. Have confidence that the owner of that company will give you an ear and listen to you. You cheat us out of the opportunity to change and be better with your Perez Hilton-esc reviews. You benefit no one; even other Yelpers recognize that your reviews hold no merit. So why do it...? Why?
Maybe this trend of bashing is something that I should just get used too. We see it in the media and in Paparazzi magazines on the newspaper shelves. People love scandal and drama. If this is the direction that this society is going in, I have to tell you, I not down with it. I won't sit and silently let it happen. I was raised that way. I will fight for my name and my company and my staff. Simply put, that's how I roll. Boom.