When restaurants talk back: Is Myers + Chang pushing poor people out of the South End?

Joanne Chang of Myers + Chang responds to a Yelp review that not only accuses it of de-grittifying the South End but of being offensive to Asians, to boot.

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Good thing they commented on Yelp

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If the concern troll who wrote on Yelp had gone to the M+C website and seen the Bruce Lee Kung Fu wallpaper they use on their site, it would have been game over for that person's sensibilities.

These sorts of grossly overly sensitive P.C.-rooted critiques of a place need to be laughed at and not seriously addressed unfortunately. Over on Fark.com right now, they have a link to a Peoria, IL newspaper letter to the editor where a woman was offended that they'd syndicate Roger Ebert's latest column because he uses the acronym "WTF". In their mind, the newspaper completely debased their legitimacy as a valid news source by doing so because "that's as offensive as actually swearing!" (gasp!).

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Funny, that...

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...considering the number of confederate flags flying in yards in Peoria IL. White supremacy is fine, but how dare anyone use an acronym that might have a naughty word in it, had it been spelled out.

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Totally agree

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If the concern troll...

Never heard that before, very clear and concise description.

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The Reverse Effect

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Myers & Change is actually bring poor people back INTO the South End: Specifically, ME! I find I can get a funky, fabulous, well put together authentic meal there for a great price, and I can park without having to pay for valet, unlike all the other places in the South End. Check it out, worried PC people.

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Yelp Feud with...

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There's another Yelp exchange going on, though it's much more fierce (and entertaining)! This one is
with Candice Alstrom, of Beer Advocate. I guess she badmouthed Yelp in her blog, Yelpers retorted as they often do, with cyber bullying and name calling. And alstrom responded on her Twitter, calling them dickbags. Awesome.

http://www.yelp.com/topic/boston-beeradvocate-vs-y...

As someone who used to contribute to Yelp, I can verify it's near-cult status. Many of the people who are involved with contributing to the site take criticism of the community very personally. Scary stuff!

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If not for the presence of MC

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If not for the presence of MC Slim JB's critiques on its pages, I wouldn't have given Yelp the time of day. As with Citysearch before it, Yelp has become a den of "bloggers" who set up a list of arbitrary rules for their restaurant review reindeer games, only to go ahead and break those rules when their sensitivities have been offended. They'll cry about how you're not supposed to review after a first visit or on restaurant week, but will one-star a restaurant on either occasion because "that's their one chance to make a first impression."

They'll judge a burrito joint on the same criteria as No. 9 Park without scaling for genre or expectation. You'd think a populist site would want to do both, as readers are visiting it for rankings of particular types of food as well as overall. If you want to be told Craigie on Main is one of the best restaurants in the area, go to Zagat's, Michelin or any other dining guide. If you want to know which place makes the best California-style cheeseburger, Yelp should be your best bet.

Finally, there's the cult aspect. When I review a place, I shouldn't receive an e-mail from some random woman from Cambridge telling me how great it is to "get my first ones out there." This isn't orientation day, hooker! Yelp isn't my job and I'm not here to "produce content" for you and your horde of zealots. I get the feeling these are the same people who take it upon themselves to tell whole crowds of people to move at public events or who chat up your bartender in an attempt to make your local "their place" while trying both his patience and that of an entire bar accustomed to getting their drinks quickly and their barroom banter in quick doses.

While the Alstrom Brothers can be fairly obnoxious in their own right when it comes to all matters beer or their events, the fact is their group at least encourages healthy debate within its ranks and a great deal of comaraderie among its volunteers. I review on Yelp and have worked events for BeerAdvocate, and I can say that the experience and adherents of the former were far more pleasant than that of the latter.

Way to go, Candace and M+C. Don't let the dickbags grind you down.

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Bigger problem

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There's a bigger problem with Yelp that I've seen and that's the website's ability to cull bad reviews from places that it likes (or possibly pay them). The site has been implicated before for turfing customers who wouldn't buy advertising or improving the rating of those that do.

Of course, they claim reviews disappear due to a mysterious algorithm of determining "suspicious" reviews and other assorted reasons, but that they won't tell you what the reasons are...because then people would game the system (like they aren't gaming it already).

So, I take Yelp reviews with a grain of salt when judging a place.

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As I've said before...

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Yelp seems to have a rather large faction of snotty self-proclaimed experts who make flash judgments about a place (whether good or bad) after one visit. While I concede that the site is useful in locating a place (some exceptions though -try finding the "Secret Ethiopian Restaurant" in Lower Roxbury that some reviewers seem to think they're "protecting" from the unwashed, uncultured masses), I take anything I read there with a GIANT grain of salt. I also find the cult-like mindset by many reviewers to be a bit unnerving.

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Yes!

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And I've been quoted in the above-mentioned exchange! I'd better stop criticizing or I might get a bad review.. Does this mean I'm famous or something?

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Yelp is the Facebook of food.

Chowhound is much better, IMHO. While I agree that the South End has become a gentrified nightmare, I appreciate Ms. Chang's comments about trying to give back to the community. You don't see such statements from the owners of most of the over priced, over hyped new restaurants that have spread through the neighborhood like a cancer. Call me old fashioned, but if the EL were still up on Washington St, we'd still have the Empire Deli and Dirty John's Breakfast stand on East Berkeley.

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