Published on Thursday, September 18, 2014

SF restaurant wants to be worst-rated on Yelp

A San Francisco-area restaurant is taking an unusual step in a fight against the "manipulative" practices of review site Yelp, by hoping to become the worst-rated restaurant in town.

To do this, Italian restaurant Botto Bistro in Richmond is asking all customers to post critical one-star Yelp reviews with the incentive of 25% off any pizza and a chance to win a cooking class.

It is taking this unorthodox approach because of the incessant advertising inquiries from Yelp which involved "blackmailing and review manipulation."

"I don't have anything against Yelp, the idea is fantastic, but the blackmailing thing is ferocious," said chef and co-founder Davide Cerretini.

"I think I should be the one deciding if I'm on the site or not, so at least I can be there on my terms."

"The only power they have is they make you reliable to them, so, I'm going to be one of the most unreliable restaurants," he added.

Cerretini says since waging war against Yelp business has gone up and he is attracting a more loyal and higher spending customer base.  

A court ruling earlier this month acknowledged that Yelp could manipulate review ratings in order to sell advertising but San Francisco judge Marsha Berzon called the policy "hard bargaining" and not an unfair business practice.

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