I have long been a reviewer on Yelp! after the web based service saved my bacon by warning me which gluten-free menus were actually gluten-free while visiting friends in an unfamiliar city several years ago. The only thing I can think of that’s worse than being sick while being away from home is being arrested and I’m lucky never to have experienced the latter.
Brent and I routinely visit local restaurants of various specialties, nationalities or ethnicities and put them to the test for what’s gluten-free and vegan. Recently I got a response to a scathing review (mostly about customer service) from the owner of a restaurant that proved to me I can make a little difference for a kind of business that classically struggles to make ends meet. He informed me that he’d spoken to his staff about the customer service issues and would try to add a vegan option to their menu starting in the new year. I’ve been eagerly watching their online menu, awaiting the needed change so that we can give their generous drink specials another try.
Contrastingly, I also got a message from another Yelp! user, below.
For your review of: XXXXX Restaurant
Why would you go to a Colombian restaurant with the expectation that you would find a variety of items that are not even Colombian? This is not useful at all and you ruin the reputation of good restaurants. Try Colombian restaurants if you want Colombian food. What you did is akin to going to a Indian restaurant and wondering why they dont have a great steak on the menu. It seems you need to be a bit more wordly in you culinary pursuits.
Naturally I responded.
To answer your question there are 3 reasons why I would go to and review a restaurant in the manner you describe.
1. As a person with food allergies, I’m really grateful to Yelp! for reviews that inform me as to whether I’ll be able to eat at a particular restaurant without getting violently ill. I’m paying it forward.
2. As a customer, even when a menu doesn’t look promising (with respect to dietary restrictions), a good kitchen will try to accommodate the needs of a customer. This addresses a customer service issue.
3. Restaurants might not know that they can broaden their base and increase revenue by adding menu items that will entice people who might otherwise avoid trying something new because of food allergies or religious, medical or personal reasons for avoiding certain foods. This notifies the restaurant of a demand they’re not filling.
I hope that answers your questions. Thanks again for asking.
Do any of you Yelp!? What do you think of the service? Have you had an experience like this one? Another option is Vegan Food is Everywhere that also helps vegans find food. Who uses it? Do you like it?
This is Christie, signing off!
I’ve only written Yelp! comments once or twice, but I definitly should do it more because I’m grateful for the people who do leave them! They tell you a lot about a restaurant, the service, and the menu. As someone who has a specific diet as well, it’s definitly helpful. That’s awesome that the owner of that restaurant responded to your comment!
I never go to a restaurant without reading lots of reviews – so your time and effort are appreciated by those of us who don’t want any surprises when we sit down to a meal. While I understand the point of view of your criticizer (i.e., don’t go to a steakhouse and expect lots of vegan options), I still think it makes sense for ANY restaurant to offer animal-free items – or items that can easily be made vegan. (And it would be really nice if the people working in restaurants knew the definition of the word vegan.) I mean, really, are chefs so uncreative that they can’t think beyond a slab of meat? How about a salad that has something in it other than iceberg lettuce and a few lonely shreds of carrot?