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Yelp is "fear propaganda and blackmail." Ignore it.

Last updated July 07, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

Gerard Leary, owner of Sweet Avenue in Sunnyside, Queens, has been in the bar and restaurant business since the beginning of Yelp. At this point has seen it all:

  • Yelp reviews left for his business that were clearly about a different restaurant.
  • When told there was a wait for a table, people have threatened to leave him a bad Yelp review if they weren't seated immediately.
  • And, of course, Yelp has relentlessly tried to contact him in myriad ways to try and get him to pay to claim and manage his business listings.

No doubt this same stuff is happening to all bars and restaurants. So what do you do about it? Gerard has come to a simple, elegant solution: ignore it. All of it. Spend your time on other aspects of your business.

Here are some key takeaways from our conversation about Yelp:

  • When deciding whether to engage with Yelp in any way, you've gotta weigh the pros and cons.
  • That's the most obvious thing ever. But Gerard's perspective is noteworthy because he explicitly calls for a holistic accounting of those pros and cons: It's not just about whether you can afford it or if it could pay off with sales.
  • Equally—if not more—important: Do you really have time for it? And most important of all: is it worth it emotionally?
  • Gerard's pro/con accounting led him to an absolutist position: ignoring Yelp completely, from reviews to contact from their sales team, and that's generally the position he recommends for bar and restaurant owners.

Check out the interview clips for more color and insight from Gerard about how he decided to completely ignore Yelp: