The owner of a San Francisco restaurant is waging a war against Yelp by offering discounts to customers who give his eatery bad reviews. “Hate us on Yelp and get 25% off any pizza for your one-star review,” is the restaurant’s battle-cry. The move seems counter-intuitive–who would want to own the worst restaurant, but Botto Bistro co-owner Davide Cerretini insists “this is the best business move I have made in years.” The call for one-star reviews stems from his experience with advertising–with not advertising actually–on the site. At one time the restaurant was getting as many as 15-20 calls a week from Yelp asking them to advertise. Eventually they did, spending approximately $270 for a six month time period — but once the restaurant stopped, the positive reviews turned negative and a positive review even vanished. “I don’t have anything against Yelp. The idea is fantastic, but the blackmailing thing is ferocious,” says Cerretini. “I think I should be the one deciding if I’m on the site or not. At least I can be there on my terms. The only power they have is they make you reliable to them. So, I’m going to be one of the most unreliable restaurants.”
The bold move has certainly provoked some hilarious one-star reviews. “Dreadful. Too many happy people inside,” gripes one customer. “I asked the waitress for a napkin and she gave me a used maxi pad,” whines another. “My food arrived before I wanted it to come. It was too hot to eat. It brought back all kinds of terrible memories of eating in Italy,” complained another diner, while someone else asked the obvious: “How can a restaurant survive when they refuse to give paying customers a generous foot rub?