What To Do With A Bad/Unfair/Negative/etc. Yelp Review

The rage! Photo credit: Serge Ouachée

The rage! Photo credit: Serge Ouachée

This is the most perfect response to Yelp you’ll read this week...maybe ever.


Oh restaurant owners, I know you have a love/hate relationship with Yelp. I’ve heard your battle cries so many times.  As much as it offers that opportunity to get some candid feedback on what’s going on, it also can open the floodgates.

Which brings us here.  I promise this will be the most diplomatic and well-thought out Yelp response you have read in a while.  May all of our Yelp responses be as beautiful.

The below rant is written by a customer after being turned away from service twice (yes, from two different establishments) for being overly intoxicated.

The review has been redacted for privacy and such.

Very disappointed with this restaurant. After many pleasant visits I was shocked with the service received today. Me and 3 of my friends were refused service for drinks based on a call from [redacted] where we received deplorable service( and of course we made them aware of the poor service as anyone should do). We came to [redacted] expecting the normal excellent service but were turned away due to unwarranted comments from an obviously prejudice establishment.  Why would a restaurant refuse service to a customers without forming their own unbiased opinion( we were literally there no more than 5 minutes). None of my friends were intoxicated as we had had only a few drinks and were responsible citizens utilizing Uber for rides home.  I am sad to say I can no longer patronize or recommend this restaurant to anyone. It is a sad day n Richmond when one prejudice restaurant can pass their prejudice along to another with a simple unwarranted phone call. Shame on you [redacted] for buying into this!!!!!! You should have taken the time to form your own opinion and you would have seen would good customers we were when treated with respect.

Standard rage-filled review, right? — slight aside: for context this customer was accusing both restaurant of being homophobic.  As a gay man and a patron of both venues, having worked on various projects with both businesses, and seeing plenty of diversity in the staffs’ orientation spectrum, I assure you this is not the reality.

the manager starts with gratitude acknowledging this guest’s previous experience

Below, find the beautiful and genteel response from the general manager.

First, we are happy to hear that you had many pleasant visits to [redacted] and always receive excellent service.
In the state of Virginia, it is unlawful to serve anyone that is clearly intoxicated. 
We made our informed opinion not solely on the fact that [redacted] called to inform us you were asked to leave because you had become too intoxicated, but because you had difficulty crossing the street, you were slurring your words, and were clearly too intoxicated to consume the two bottles of wine that you immediately ordered at before 4pm. 
Please understand that it is our ABC license that is in jeopardy if we break the law and we have a responsibility to the community not over-serve anyone that we deem is clearly intoxicated. Based on your reaction to being cut off, we made the right decision and stand by it. 
We would hope that when you wake up tomorrow and re read the review you wrote, that you agree with us and decide to remove it. 
Either way, we are very happy that you decided to not drive intoxicated.  

There are several reasons I love this response — should all of our Yelp responses be of this caliber!  First, the manager starts with gratitude acknowledging this guest’s previous experience.  Secondly, they provide extremely detailed reasoning in the response for their decision.  Finally, this note ends with a close that is focused on the guest's wellbeing.

So breaking this down to three takeaways for the recipe to a perfect response to an outlandish review:

  • Thank You: Express gratitude for the customer taking the time to write.

  • Response: Candid explanation, action or followup to the customer’s concerns.

  • Valediction: Close by leaving things on an upbeat note and an opportunity to make amends - regardless of who is in the wrong.
Kevin ClayArchive