Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle takes a look at Bay Area foodbloggers and ratings sites such as Yelp, noting their effect on the restaurant business. In short, restaurateurs are not happy, and, for the most part, bloggers and Yelpers end up coming across as pixel-pushing bullies.
The posts "nearly killed my business," said [Teo] Kridech, a native of France who has worked in the food industry for 25 years and spent $150,000 revamping the Senses space. "Everyone has become a food critic. They think they're real big shots. They probably can't even make scrambled eggs.
The Chron points out that pro food writers follow accepted standards and practices while writing about restaurantssuch as giving a place 30 days to get its sea legs and visiting at least three times before unspooling a reviewwhile foodbloggers and Yelpers, well, you just don't know what their agenda is.
A recent piece in the New York Times touched on similar themes but seemed to cast bloggers in a more favorable light, focusing more on the process than on the consequences of hasty reviews.
If you're a regular reader of blogs or food forums, this issue comes up from time to time in comment threads. As the Chronicle story says: "But, bloggers believe they are doing a public service. Eating out is costly, they say, so why shouldn't buyers be forewarned before plunking down good money?"
And, the article mentions, that good early buzz online can ensure a place's success long before a reviewer from a paper or magazine visits.
Or after a high-profile critic visits. In late 2005, the New York Post stopped reviewing restaurants altogether. Steve Cuozzo, the paper's critic at the time, said:
Welcome to the zany new world of dining out, where eateries change moods and menus in the blink of a wine-soaked eye. Back when restaurants were smaller and more stable, a review might hold water for years. Today, once critics have moved on, the house mutates without any press attention.