Ever wonder what it's like to work in food service, retail stores, or really any customer-facing job? Just read the reviews of pretty much any business on Yelp and you'll see the heaping helping of entitled behavior you'll be subjected to on a daily basis. Of course, everyone wants perfection, but even perfection is not enough: if you don't smile with exactly the right amount of flirtation in your smile, you'll be dinged.
Take a moment to give thanks if your income doesn't rely upon the stingy largesse of the denizens of Yelp (in the form of tips), and read the next installment of our reviews of Yelp reviews.
Harry L.'s 2-star review of Portola Coffee Lab:
It's no secret that we love Portola Coffee Lab around here. If you ever want to find your local OC food writers, just walk into the OC Mart Mix. It's also no secret, though, that Portola's mad-scientist shtick flies over the many people's heads.
For all that I don't agree with the rating, this is actually a reasonable review. It raises legitimate complaints, like the wait for coffee and the complexity of trying to order what for most people is a means to an end (caffeination). I frankly have trouble trying to decide how I want my coffee brewed, and usually leave it up to the staff. The review is a little bit discursive (like a conversation), but it's Yelp; tight and bright third person is not in scope here. Harry L., you get a gold star.
Catherine Q.'s 2-star review of Costco:
It sets my nerves on edge to read someone's writing when they're exposing facts that absolutely everyone else knows and being upset by them. Costco has been in business since Travis Pastrana flew out of his mom's womb on a motocross bike and is the fifth largest retailer in the country; since its inception, they've required memberships, sold absolutely enormous packages of their goods (twenty pounds of chicken, anyone?), and forced their intensely loyal clientele to do the Receipt Checking Walk of Shame on the way out the door. Please stop being shocked and butt-hurt by something everyone knows.
Also, it says you'll never return, but you have two check-ins there. Please explain this time anomaly.
Viv M.'s 1-star review of The Quiet Woman:
The Quiet Woman is well known as a cougar den, though of course if you're a British visitor, you can't possibly be expected to know that. It's pretty funny to see people who claim they could just open a restaurant, hire Gordon Ramsay to run it, and do it better than people who have been in business for years, but that's not why Viv M. is featured today.
No, what landed this review on our pages is the seemingly ubiquitous claim of injury or illness. Here's a pro tip: absolutely no newspaper or magazine in the country will allow its writers to claim they got food poisoning or an allergy attack from food at a restaurant under review. Think about that for a second–even OC Weekly, where we pride ourselves on being as alternative as we can, does not permit it. Why? Because it can't be proven. Sure, you may think you have a smoking gun, but you cannot prove it.
These issues are the hardest for restaurants to address on Yelp, because there's quite literally no way for them to move forward; if they argue that it didn't happen, there's no saving the client relationship; if they admit that it might have happened, they expose themselves to lawsuits that would cost much more than a lost customer.
Stop it. Most of you think that any heartburn, discomfort, or nausea is food poisoning, which just tells those of us who have actually had it that you don't know what you're talking about. If you feel like you were made ill by food at a restaurant, your first stop should be your doctor; he or she can alert the public health authorities if it's determined that you actually do have food poisoning.
Shame on you, Viv M.
Fia R.'s 3-star review of Tana Ethiopian Restaurant:
When I was a green writer just starting out here, our former editor, a middle-height man, gazed deeply into my eyes and intoned, "Tight, bright, third person. Use it. Learn to love it.” Of course, like most lessons, it went in one ear and right out the other.
Here we have the opposite problem: robotic use of the third person. When Fia R. refers to herself as Fia R., Fia R. starts to sound like Bob Dole writing after a particularly satisfying bong hit. Combine that with the profligate–profligate, I tell you!–use of the passive voice, and you come up with a review that manages to hide its content behind an impenetrable wall of poor writing.
Also, do not ever use the word "chunk” or any of its derivative in a food review; it's disgusting.
Milo M.'s 5-star review of Albertsons:
This is exactly the kind of thing Yelp needs more of. Milo M. loves the Ladera Ranch Albertsons so much that he is giving it his two-sentence stamp of approval. You can find him warming his butt near the fried chicken and potato heat lamps, serving olives from the olive bar with his bare, snot-covered hands, and on a hot day he's been known to stick his head in the ice cream cooler (be aware that you'll need to check for melt and re-freeze after he does this).
Why can he do these things that would normally be the height of bad manners? Well, he owns it; it's his grocery store.
Have Yelp reviews that strike you as funny, pitiful, or almost professional in their quality? Leave a comment below or e-mail them to me here.