"Customers have begun threatening to 'Yelp' the restaurant if their demands are not met. Cafe Rouge experienced this phenomenon twice within the past month when comps were demanded with the threat that a harsh review would follow on the Yelp website if we didn't comply."
Wow, that pretty much sucks.
I know I'm largely busted in Durham, but really I'd prefer it if no one in the restaurant business locally knew I wrote this blog. Then I'd know that any free glass of wine or the like I got was more due to my scintillating personality and winning ways than any chance I'd write up something positive for free. And I'd like to think that I write up positive things or link to places because they have their own special positiveness, and not just because someone is buttering me up, so to speak.
People should generally feel free to express their dislike with something -- true helpful negative feedback, especially on minor issues, is hard to elicit -- but this is just fucking blackmail. I think if I owned a restaurant and someone blackmailed me like this, I'd comp their meal, then ask them never to come back. I guess that's why I don't own a restaurant.
I used to have a boss who said that when he looked at shopping reports for a store -- where the company pays someone to anonymously shop the store and report on their experience -- he basically threw out the top and bottom two out of any ten reports, then looked at what was left. Unfortunately, people just skimming Yelp or eGullet or even this blog aren't necessarily going to do that. Of course, all my regular readers are much smarter and well-informed, right? :)
Edit - Since I know that a few people who do work professionally in local restaurants read this blog: has the above ever happened to you or your restaurant?