A couple of weeks ago we told you about the Union Street Guest House’s fiasco with its threat (and attempted action) to fine customers for writing negative online reviews. The story about the boutique hotel in Hudson, New York, quickly went viral and inspired many people to post bad reviews of the Guest House to demonstrate their disapproval of that policy. On the opposite coast, an Italian restaurant in Richmond, California, is now crusading to get its customers to write bad reviews on the review site Yelp.
Botto Bistro is seeking one-star reviews on Yelp specifically after owner and executive chef Davide Cerretini experienced a hidden dark side of the website. Cerretini says that Yelp relentlessly called him to ask him to advertise; Cerretini estimates that he got around 20 phone calls a week from the review-based site. After a while, Cerretini conceded (wouldn’t you?) and paid approximately $270 for six months to please Yelp. However, when Cerretini stopped paying for advertising on Yelp after that period, his restaurant’s overwhelmingly positive reviews were mysteriously replaced by negative ones.
In response, Cerretini has made it his mission to make Botto Bistro the worst reviewed restaurant on Yelp. He offers a 25 percent discount to customers that post a one-star review on Yelp, and people have gladly helped him out. Botto Bistro now has achieved a one start rating on Yelp, and the restaurant’s customers have been showcasing their wit in their entertaining ‘bad’ assessments:
“Dreadful. Too many happy people inside. And despite what I was expecting, not a single Bahn Mi on the menu.”
“I was in a bad mood and wanted a bad lunch…The food arrived fast and it was tasty. This was not what I had expected. The service was fantastic. Again, not what I wanted that day…I will come back on a day when I want a good lunch.”
“I cannot in good conscience give five stars to a restaurant knowing that patrons will enjoy the food so much that they gorge themselves to the point of nausea. It’s irresponsible of ownership to serve a dish they know diners cannot resist. The temptation of just one more bite is clearly not limited to those of a refined palette. Even the least discriminating consumer can appreciate the variety of deliciousness on this menu. If you are looking for a dining experience so good it will leave you literally bursting at both ends, this is the place.”
Cerretini’s Botto is making headlines with its bold one-star strategy and only growing in popularity. The restaurant’s website’s homepage now features an icon that reads: “People hate us on Yelp.” (Although the bistro still has almost perfect Google review ratings.) This is another example of how people are making it clear that they don’t like it when big-name organizations try to control the little guy. Yelp has claimed that it doesn’t influence reviews based on if a business advertises for the site, but Cerretini’s story of the site’s interference discredits that.
“We have nothing to lose,” Cerretini said. “Worst case, we go back to Italy and cook for mama.”
Photo credit: Uproxx