Upscale SF restaurants targeted by bad Cookie-Cutter reviews from online trolls


Lately, several local high-end restaurants have noticed an increase in one-star reviews left online from different, often faceless accounts – which has significantly affected their overall Google ratings – and some owners have even received emails online trolls demanding money to stop posting one-star reviews.

Review aggregation websites like Yelp! and OpenTable are having a massive impact on small businesses, like bars and restaurants. It has been estimated that a simple increase of an additional half star can cause restaurants to run out of stock 19% more frequently; conversely, a drop in the number of stars can be financially devastating for a restaurantespecially when left on unsubstantiated accounts.

Recently, this latest issue has affected a handful of San Francisco restaurants still reeling from the devastating financial effects wrought by the pandemic. Also: these one-star reviews appear to be cookie-cutter reviews that multiple accounts use to effectively spam restaurants in SF…for no particular reason or gain.

Even after a booming Fourth of July weekend that saw a welcome increase in foot traffic for many SF foodie institutions, it’s still been a tough few years amid the pandemic and economic malaise.

“I would say it’s been a really tough two years,” Kim Alter, chef and owner of Nightbird, told NBC Bay Area. “In all honesty, it’s probably a very small thing to get those one-star reviews.”

For Alter, these criticisms represent a negative “tipping point” when it comes to the struggles she and other resultants and bar owners have endured in recent times.

“I was like ‘this is ridiculous,'” she continues. someone might not come in.”

Similarly, the same one-star reviews were left at Restaurant 3rd Cousin in Bernal Heights on July 4th weekend.

As a result of these reviews, Google encourages users to report and report these types of reviews, which will send them for quality review and, if found to be written by a baseless troll, will be removed.

*Correction has been made to reflect that these spam reviews affect Google rankings, not those currently on Yelp!

Related: Square Pie Guys opens third location in SF’s Ghirardelli Square

Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images/peeterv


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