DonRocks

Yelp Best Restaurants

241 posts in this topic

I'm sitting here, sipping a Willett, and wondering why Yelp is kicking my ass (I think it's the same reason why musicians criticize Lady Gaga, but that's not my point).

I Googled "Yelp Top Rated DC" (no quotes) and got the following page with the following list:

#1 Pi Truck DC

#2 Manouch Hot Dog Stand

#3 Minibar

#4 Hana Japanese Market

#5 Obelisk

#6 Basil Thyme

To all the restauranteurs I've supported over the years who have a Yelp sticker in their front window, and no mention of this website anywhere: Go dig up your dead grandmother and fuck her eye socket.

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I'm looking for...er, just found...this which seems somehow on point. As your search makes clear, we need you on that wall, Mr. Rockwell.

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As part of this demographic, I feel I can say this... Yelp is for 20-something wannabe hipsters on a budget. There is a bias towards perceived character, and divey vs. fine dining. Most Yelpers will rate something higher if they feel they've "discovered" it. If it's popular, they will probably try to take it down a peg or two. Hence, the outcomes you see on Yelp. I actually think it would be nice to aggregate the ratings from Yelp, Urbanspoon, and Opentable (which I usually go by since there's anonymoty and no real axes to grind) into a composite score of sorts. Of course, DR too, but since there aren't "numeric" grades as it were it would be more difficult.

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Imma put a big homemade sticker on my door that says "mentioned on occasion on DonRockwell dot com" :-)

For better or for worse, Yelp has an established brand and visual identity. While DR is a significantly better product, aside from including a shout-out in narratives, such as websites and possibly press interviews, restaurants probably don't know how to promote or recognize the site officially. Ever considered printing up some stickers with your logo and "Best Restaurant" or something on it? Or, since cost is an issue, a PDF that could be distributed and then laminated for their walls? In order to build a reputation and the recognition as a consistent, trustworthy source of information and advice, you need to establish a standard brand identity that can then be promoted in a way that benefits both the site and the restaurant/bar/distributor.

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You could pay for those stickers by bribing restaurants, what Yelp doesn't do that, what am I saying.

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By the way, brand recognition goes far beyond trust; it stimulates use. Being named a Yelp Best Restaurant means nothing to me personally, but seeing the visual identity at a restaurant reminds me, if self-consciously, that I value the site as a glorified address book (21st century Zagat), that their mapping app is excellent--and that I need to remember to use both.

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Have you have you given any thought to giving out best of or some other kind of award? It could be members only voting, and you could hand out a silly sticker or award that would serve as promotion for the site. Restaurants will usually do the rest and at least mention it on their website.

I'd be interested in seeing who the winners would be and could promote good discussion.

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The LTH Forum in Chicago has a guide called GNR - Great Neighborhood Restaurants. The restaurants are typically the lesser known, "hole in the wall" ones. Each year they put out the guide and give the restaurants a certificate and sticker to put on the window. Every year the GNR guide changes, but it is wildly successful in Chicago and the restaurants really look at it as an honor.

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I love this idea. Members could vote once a year, or once every six months, and either the top X% or the top # in each area, or something, could get "DR Member approved" stickers! I know I would love to see that at an unfamiliar restaurant entrance. Personally, I shudder a bit when I see the "Yelp" sticker. I don't find Yelp reliable, and after reading lots of Yelp reviews in both cities where I live, I conclude that I am just not in the Yelp target market. Which is fine.

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I kinda like this idea. Since we divide up by "neighborhoods", perhaps it could be the top x number of places in any given "neighborhood" (I am using this as a loose term as the dining guide isn't EXACTLY by neighborhood, but does have geographical dimensions to it), as voted on by members. That could also be a draw to becoming a member, can't vote until your an active member (more than one post).

I do agree the app and mapping aspect (address, telephone number, hours) is generally all I use Yelp for, but that part is often helpful when I am in a different city and need hours or telephone numbers.

Perhaps this is the modern version of the DR handshake or the DR membership cards. Just something to make the members feel kinda special and the restaurants too.

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To all the restauranteurs I've supported over the years who have a Yelp sticker in their front window, and no mention of this website anywhere: Go dig up your dead grandmother and fuck her eye socket.

F*ck those B*tches !!

IzKhy.jpg

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That is the sticker right there, of course if you had to edit out the language it could just be, "Eat this."

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I kinda like this idea. Since we divide up by "neighborhoods", perhaps it could be the top x number of places in any given "neighborhood" (I am using this as a loose term as the dining guide isn't EXACTLY by neighborhood, but does have geographical dimensions to it), as voted on by members. That could also be a draw to becoming a member, can't vote until your an active member (more than one post).

I do agree the app and mapping aspect (address, telephone number, hours) is generally all I use Yelp for, but that part is often helpful when I am in a different city and need hours or telephone numbers.

Perhaps this is the modern version of the DR handshake or the DR membership cards. Just something to make the members feel kinda special and the restaurants too.

I wonder how many people think I was hammered when I wrote the first post above; I wasn't - I was on my first, and only, drink of the evening.

A recent thought I had is based on the time-honored concept of tagging.

Business cards (eta - or, ZOMG, the picture above), furtively attached to conspicuous places in the bathrooms.

I was at Pearl Dive the other night, and thought it would be just perfect to stick one right on the guy's crotch on the bathroom wallpaper, or maybe the mirror above the sink, or even a bocce ball.

Obviously, I couldn't officially support such a thing, but if anyone here, on their own volition, figured out how to design and make them available, well, there wouldn't be much I could do to stop people, now, would there. :ph34r:

Not once have I ever marketed this website, but if I did, it would be something funny, creative, and harmless - like this.

The dr.com Tagging Network - coming soon to a restroom near you!

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That is the sticker right there, of course if you had to edit out the language it could just be, "Eat this."

If I had photoshop I would make it souless and monochrome to get the true DR.com feel.

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If I had photoshop I would make it souless and monochrome to get the true DR.com feel.

"Soulless?" I assume you are speaking of the look, and not the people. I've been kicking around the internets since 1995 or so, and have participated in many, many message boards, food listservs, etc. This website has the most passionate, knowledgable, and creative collection of cooks and diners that I've ever had the privilidge of hanging out with, both in the cyber and the literal sense of that term. And some of the best food writing on the web. Not everything here is 100% wonderful, but the depth of knowledge and sincerity of the posters here have kept me around since April 16, 2005, and will probably keep me reading for another 7 years. I would pay to keep this site going if Don would let me. And I BY FAR trust the opinions here over the random bullshit I see posted on Yelp.

So, yeah, soulless.

Love, Member #25

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I got nothing against you, Ms. or Mr. Bacon. Please consider my rant as anti-Yelp.

I should be yelling at those damn kids to get off my lawn before too long.

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Instead of "Best Restaurant" stickers, it should just say "Bolded" or "Italicized" or "Grudgingly listed".

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Go dig up your dead grandmother and fuck her eye socket.

Meant to say the above quote from DR is not a very nice thing to say. Sorry you're so angry.

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Go dig up your dead grandmother and fuck her eye socket.

Meant to say the above quote from DR is not a very nice thing to say. Sorry you're so angry.

Wow, cranky aren't we! I'm trying to keep this on a sincere track, with a little humor thrown in for good measure. Isn't this an open forum?

"Not a very nice thing to say." That's rich.

In fact, it was a phrase I coined about 25 years ago when a couple of us were sitting around trying to think of the worst possible thing you could say to someone (that wasn't personal).

Anger? You bet. With a little humor thrown in for good measure. You should hear me tell The Aristocrats sometime.

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I wonder how many people think I was hammered when I wrote the first post above; I wasn't - I was on my first, and only, drink of the evening.

A recent thought I had is based on the time-honored concept of tagging.

Business cards (eta - or, ZOMG, the picture above), furtively attached to conspicuous places in the bathrooms.

I was at Pearl Dive the other night, and thought it was be just perfect to stick one right on the guy's crotch on the bathroom wallpaper, or maybe the mirror above the sink, or even a bocce ball.

Obviously, I couldn't officially support such a thing, but if anyone here, on their own volition, figured out how to design and make them available, well, there wouldn't be much I could do to stop people, now, would there. :ph34r:

Not once have I ever marketed this website, but if I did, it would be something funny, creative, and harmless - like this.

The dr.com Tagging Network - coming soon to a restroom near you!

geez, I think you are actually on to something here..

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Scale of gradation could range from Rocks Swell to Sucks Ventworm Nuts -- I'll leave it to other more creative minds to fill-in the in-betweens.

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I think it should say "This place Rocks!"

I can see this on a sticker, with donrockwell.com below or on the edge or whatever.

ETA: And I guess it would need to give a year. DR.com seal of approval 2012.

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geez, I think you are actually on to something here..

Honestly, I think I am too. Can anyone help me with the logistics of getting a few thousand of these things made?

I'll do the tagging. :ph34r:

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Honestly, I think I am too. Can anyone help me with the logistics of getting a few thousand of these things made?

I'll do the tagging. :ph34r:

They could be made available to anyone interested in acquiring at certain events, say a $20 Tuesday or the Spring Picnic?

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Whenever I needed something of high quality printed, fast and cheap, I went to Master Print in Alexandria. www.master-print.com

But you need to accept donations to defray the cost, and then we can all start tagging every shitter in DC. Epic idea.

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I second B.A.R. on the donations idea. This is just too good an idea to let pass because of cost concerns.

TSchaad

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You could do this exactly the way the Post and Washingtonian do it. Once a year (maybe in the spring or summer opposite when the other "best of" lists come out), we (I'd be happy to help) compile a list of all the bold and italicized restaurants in the dinning guide and Don issues a press release that will likely be picked up by Eater DC and every other food blogger in the area (and possibly some of the mainstream media). Any restaurant included gets a certificate with the year printed on it, which they will doubtlessly frame themselves and display in their front window for time immemorial. This could all be done on a color printer and without a ton of effort (right now there are only two relevant rankings -- "Very Best" and "Best"). Free publicity for the restaurant and nearly-free publicity for the website.

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I will donate. I am only in DC part-time, but when I am there I dine out as much as possible. I want to be a part of the fun.

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Can I get a bumper sticker of this?

You can make them for way cheap on zazzle.com (provided the image isn't copyrighted...) ;)

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Some thoughts on all this:

1) I'm all for it because it's funny, rebellious, and harmless

2) "Eat This" is about as far as I can support; I don't want obscenity or offensive material posted where children (or, for that matter, sensitive adults) can see it. I'm more old-fashioned than people think. I do think cheaply made copies of that picture (with a caption) is a good idea because it's funny. If there are any type of copyright issues, we need to find out, and if so, we'll just use another image.

3) I don't want to cause any damage at all to any physical structure, including paint. Tape is about as strong an adhesive as we should use - something that could be quickly and harmlessly peeled off, i.e., no glue. Some of these bathroom murals and paintings are quite expensive, and I don't want to harm them by removing these tags.

Can anyone think of anything else? If not ... I say, all systems go. Believe me, I need all the help I can get, and I am beyond flattered (truly, it warms my heart) to think that multiple members here would help support me when I'm getting destroyed by a website such as Yelp. I'm convinced (maps, addresses, etc., aside) that we have the vastly superior product. And yeah, it kills me that mercenary MBAs in suits have gotten extremely wealthy while a bonafide expert (I know that sounds a bit pompous, but I really am, dammit!), who has dedicated his recent life to a mastery of the subject, has toiled for years so that others may benefit, and continues to languish in relative obscurity. That last sentence sounds very close to being petty, but it really is starting to wear me down and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't becoming deflated. I've worked SO hard with other people in mind, and have never asked for anything in return from anyone.

In case anyone wants to support the places that acknowledge me, all you need to do is take a look at who I follow on Twitter (the one exception I can think of is Corduroy who doesn't have a twitter account so I can't follow them - there may be a few others. My one - and only - criterion for "twitter following" is that i follow restaurants who mention donrockwell.com or dcdining.com on their websites in some form or another, no matter how small the mention is. And it's pretty pathetic that I only follow 20 people as of this writing (as a corollary, if you're someone I don't follow - please don't be offended because this is the only reason why).

I also want to add that not once, not one single time, have I ever let any of this effect a restaurant's placement in the dining guide or my reviews of them. Not once, because the moment I do that is the moment when I become a fraud, and at that point, you should no longer believe anything I ever tell you again. That's how strongly I feel about ethics. I'm not a perfect parent, but I've tried to instill a sense of ethics in my son, and he knows. He sees it. And he also thinks I'm a fool for not having cashed in on these people who have been cashing in on me for years. But I just can't do it because I have to be able to live with myself.

As an aside, another idea I've had before - which is probably even more effective than this one (albeit a bit more tacky) is standing outside restaurants such as Cheesecake Factory in Clarendon and handing out one-page leaflets to customers walking into, walking out of, or walking towards the restaurant, which say, essentially, "Here's Where You Should Be Having Dinner Tonight That's Less Than Two Blocks From Here." I'd look like a buffoon, but I'd also be right. And it would hit these lousy, national chains (hell, even the lousy, area chains) right where it hurts. I would include my name and email address for full accountability.

Where do we start with all of this? I'm rarin' to go and you guys have a tiger by the tail. If someone can arrange for the printing of these little Post-it things, I'll start the tagging process the day I get ahold of them. I don't know if I'm comfortable taking financial donations from people for this (it's a legitimate marketing expense), but if someone can organize the process? That would be great because I know my limitations, and this could easily become yet another in a series of great ideas that never get off the ground. And when the time comes? We'll need people to join the Tagging Network!

Remember above all else: mischief, not malice! This needs to be fun and good-natured.

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Is is possible to do a "Post It" type of sticker...one that adheres but is also easily removed? I don't know about the quality of the image that can be reproduced, or the cost...but i'd be more likely to carry a pad of sticky notes that a roll of Scotch (or other brand) tape.

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Is is possible to do a "Post It" type of sticker...one that adheres but is also easily removed? I don't know about the quality of the image that can be reproduced, or the cost...but i'd be more likely to carry a pad of sticky notes that a roll of Scotch (or other brand) tape.

Could someone take on the assignment of doing this, or at least researching it? This is the one thing on the critical path, and is the single most important thing to making this work.

Once this is done, maybe we should figure out the most effective targets so everyone here gets the recognition they deserve? It won't necessarily be fine-dining establishments; it could be going for the masses inside stadiums, malls, massive restaurants such as Old Ebbitt Grill or Cheesecake Factory or Sweetwater Tavern or Seasons 52 or Channel Inn? This needs to be what's best for the website, and the dining community as a whole. What do you all think? I say conspicuous locations and high traffic, and to heck with "fine dining" - people can learn fine dining; we need numbers.

Man, I want to educate the masses more than you could ever possibly believe. And I say this with the most honorable intent imaginable. I want people to know about places that deserve being recognized. Remember Food Matters? So do I. Not many others do, and that's a tragedy,

I say 5,000 tags for starters, to be distributed among 50 people or so. That's 100 per person which is pretty doable, right? Or, hell, let's get 50,000 and do an airplane drop.

You know what I really want? I want 100,000 members on donrockwell.com. Is that so unrealistic? I want to climb up on a building, and scream to the world that Tom Power is making kick-your-ass soups, Tony Comte cooks without cream or butter, Eric Ziebold is my best friend in the industry who is a top 50 chef in the world, Johnny Monis is doing a $45 regional Thai menu, Frank Ruta is a scholar of regional Italian historical cuisine, Cathal Armstrong makes the best game in town, Fabio Trabocchi is cooking just as well as he was at Maestro, and so much more. My goodness, I have so much great information to tell people, and I just want them to hear what I have to say. Nobody else is saying it, so please, everyone, give me the medium to do it in a really funny, mischevious, and harmless way?

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Could someone take on the assignment of doing this, or at least researching it? This is the one thing on the critical path, and is the single most important thing to making this work.

Is this the kind of thing you're talking about? It looks like the custom design option prices out as a packet of fifteen 5" circle stickers for $19.99. The downside of something this easily removable is that anyone could just peel off the sticker and take it, but it's better than defacing someone's property.

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Is this the kind of thing you're talking about? It looks like the custom design option prices out as a packet of fifteen 5" circle stickers for $19.99. The downside of something this easily removable is that anyone could just peel off the sticker and take it, but it's better than defacing someone's property.

Peeling it off and taking it is actually good, isn't it thought? The person that takes it is more likely to be curious and come to the website. And the next sticker-carrying DR person who goes to the establishment can re-sticker the place.

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Peeling it off and taking it is actually good, isn't it thought? The person that takes it is more likely to be curious and come to the website. And the next sticker-carrying DR person who goes to the establishment can re-sticker the place.

I guess, at this point, I'm not sure what these stickers are going to be saying and where they are going to be put. At first, it seemed as though they were meant to endorse particular restaurants as being exceptional, but now it sounds like they are to advertise the website rather than to designate excellence. If the purpose is to advertise the site only, then having them easily removed is very good, but that could easily get very costly. (N.B.: I didn't exactly do any kind of extensive research here, so there may well be cheaper sources of stickers than the site I linked to, but I'd expect that removable stickers are going to be more expensive generally than the permanent type.)

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I guess, at this point, I'm not sure what these stickers are going to be saying and where they are going to be put. At first, it seemed as though they were meant to endorse particular restaurants as being exceptional, but now it sounds like they are to advertise the website rather than to designate excellence. If the purpose is to advertise the site only, then having them easily removed is very good, but that could easily get very costly. (N.B.: I didn't exactly do any kind of extensive research here, so there may well be cheaper sources of stickers than the site I linked to, but I'd expect that removable stickers are going to be more expensive generally than the permanent type.)

To clarify I think it is a bit of both. I think it would be kind of an honor for a restaurant to be "tagged" because it means a DR member went there and approved of the food. But I think the main purpose is for more traffic to the site. People would be able to remove business cards with scotch tape, so I think an easily removable sticker is pretty much the same, except someone may be able to re-stick it somewhere that we might not want it to end up. OR the owner could move it to somewhere visible to attract people familiar with DR if they so desired.

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When Don first harshed me out about 3 or 4 years ago for not having anything of his on the wall or on my website (well, I didn't have one at the time), I told him that I would proudly display a certificate, a la Washingtonian, or a sticker, a la Yelp, Zagat, City Eats, Fearless Critic, etc. etc. etc., but that I couldn't just make something up myself. I also mentioned that since he didn't publish actual reviews (which was the then the case) that there was nothing I could include in any of my literature.

At the time, I thought that a bit of promotion of the web-site was crucial to its future and that Don's original proclamations of impossible standards of nobility and selflessness when he started this site and his original vows to never make a penny from this site had painted him into a corner that he would later regret never being able to escape from, and I said so. Let's hope it's not too late to reverse that.

I love the whole underground, Banksky-esque, approach being discussed now and I think it could go a long way to making Don into the figure he wants to be and give this site the greater public presence it deserves.

At this point, however, it's not clear whether this is meant to shame offending restaurants and scold ignorant diners, or whether it is meant to bring exceptional restaurants to the attention of open-minded diners while also creating a groundswell of awareness to the site--but either way the support evidenced in this thread is validation in and of itself.

As an independent chain owner, I would love to support this whole-heartedly, monetarily or other-wise, were it not for the obvious appearance of "pay-for-play".

This community is never at a loss for ideas or talent, though, and I am sure that the right idea will be found.

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