Ask The Salty Waitress: When Should I Take My Restaurant Grievances To Yelp?

Dear Salty, I am not usually the type to post reviews on the internet, but I'm not sure I have any other choice in this situation.

Yesterday, a group of four of us went out to dinner at a sushi place in our town that other people have been raving about. Everything was a disaster from the start. We waited forever for our server, who didn't apologize or anything. Then we waited forever for our appetizers, which were only half correct (she brought out two wrong dishes), and then waited again for the sushi. The food tasted fine, but the server would constantly ignore us, not apologize, not refill drinks, etc. It was just lazy.

The whole dinner took three hours. When I asked to see a manager, the server rolled her eyes! The manager was clearly her friend or cousin or something, because he didn't apologize either and didn't seem to care that our dinner took three hours and wasn't enjoyable.

I'm ready to write all of this and more in a mean but truthful Yelp review. Other people deserve to know how crappy the service was, especially because we were told by numerous people to go here! I am usually anti-Yelp reviews, but am I right to want to post a long one about this place?

Thanks,Sushi Sucked

Dear Sushi Sucked,

I'm old enough to remember the innocent days before Yelp reviews, when the worst you could do to damage a restaurant's reputation was to tell every single person you knew—and maybe strangers, too—about your terrible meal. That all changed with Yelp, and now that stupid little red website runs the show.

So you can see I'm generally anti-Yelp. To any customers I've pissed off, I'd say: If you've got a problem with me, pal, say it to my face. I promise I can take it. If you complain to the restaurant in person, they can have an actual conversation and ask you exactly what went wrong. That means more to the owners and then they're more likely to believe you. When you write something online, the owners can easily write it off as just another nutjob who doesn't know what they're talking about.

But you did try to speak up, and I'll give you kudos for that. Here's the catch with bitching about the service on Yelp, though—if you've never done the Yelp thing before, you'll just have that one angry review on there, which would look to me like you're just some wacko with an ax to grind. Especially if I see the other Yelp reviews for this place are mostly good, I personally wouldn't give your three-page rant much more than a nickle's worth of credit. (Maybe you caught the worst server on her worst night?) What I'm saying is, you're probably not changing too many minds by posting on Yelp.

If you're still losing sleep over this, though, you could try calling the restaurant to speak to an owner or different manager—or, as a last resort, go ahead and write something on Yelp. It'll be more for you than anyone else, though, I wager, so you have to ask yourself whether it's really going to make you feel better. I think you're better off keeping your grievances off the internet, but considering I answer questions about people's grievances on the internet, take that with a grain of salt.