Opening a new restaurant has always presented many challenges for a chef, but there is one in particular today that a chef didn't have to think about twenty or fifty years ago: Yelp reviews. As with any new venture, a restaurant does not provide absolute perfection the day or even the week it opens. It can be a trial and error operation, potentially leading to initially unsatisfied customers.
Some complaints are valid and others simply ignorant. However, every mistake is a learning experience. Though user reviews on public websites such as Yelp can be unsatisfactory to downright vicious, a restaurant can choose to see them as an opportunity.
In a recent article for the Atlantic, Sara Jenkins, the mastermind behind New York restaurants Porchetta and Porsena, discusses the difficulties of dealing with Yelp reviews. One of the pitfalls of such a public platform, she points out, is that every user wants to assert themselves, at times trying to even more so than the last. Such sensationalism, though, can pitch a restaurant's entire page, which then has a significant impact on anyone else visiting the site.
At the end of the day, Chef Jenkins suggests perhaps one should not read their own Yelp reviews. What is more important, she says, is seeing happy, satisfied customers in front of her own eyes ever day.
To read more about Sara Jenkins' experience, go here.