Restaurant Offers Discounts for Your Negative Yelp Reviews


Botto Italian Bistro, an Italian restaurant in the Richmond District of San Francisco is taking a different approach to gain more traffic; they aim to be the ‘worst [rated] restaurant in the Bay Area’ on Yelp.

Owned by seasoned chefs Davide Cerretini and Michele Massimo, Botto Italian Bistro is a bustling restaurant with a wealth of loyal customers coming in and out daily. However, Cerretini claims that he got sick of Yelp incessantly calling to ask him to advertise with them.

“I don’t have anything against Yelp. The idea is fantastic, but the blackmailing thing is ferocious. I think I should be the one deciding if I’m on the site or not. 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,” says Cerretini.

This is not unlike one San Diego restaurant, Craft & Commerce, that actually broadcasts recordings of their negative Yelp reviews in their bathroom.

So what have Cerretini and Massimo done to work towards achieving their goal of being the worst restaurant in the Bay Area? They are offering 25% off any pizza and a chance to win a cooking class for anyone who leaves a 1-star review.

And it’s working. Cerretini claims that traffic has increased since he started this campaign against Yelp. “I think this is the best business move I have made in years,” he says.

“We got a threatening letter saying that we buy Yelp reviews – and we do. We buy bad reviews,” jokes Cerretini. He claims that would be happy to be removed from Yelp’s database completely.

However so far, all he received was this letter from Yelp:


To which he cleverly responded:


As of 09/18/2014 at 9:25 AM PDT, Botto Italian Bistro has 2 stars and 178 reviews, and 81 other reviews that ‘are not currently recommended’.

Getting more reviews, whether they are good or bad, is beneficial to any business.  At the very least, it gives feedback to the owners to allow them to make improvements in the future.  In addition, it also helps in generating traffic.  Encouraging visitors to give reviews, in general, is also an excellent practice because engaging consumers in the feedback dialog encourages them to think more about their experience and share it. This ultimately can improve business practices and revenue.

So what do you think about this business’s approach towards Yelp’s advertising tactics? Do you think it’s brilliant or harmful to their overall bottom line? Let us know in the comments below!