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The Tenuous Relationship Between Restaurants and Yelp

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Plus Ari Taymor opens up about Alma, and more

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Same Same Is Silver Lake's New Wine Bar and Thai Takeout Mashup
Same Same, Silver Lake
Wonho Frank Lee
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Talking about Yelp

The Super Amazing Restaurant Show team dropped another episode yesterday, and this one returns the trio to a track of talking about the super-specific nuances of their lives in the restaurant industry. For episode 11 the focus is on Yelp and its often tenuous relationship with restaurants, from the customers who use the platform to leverage in-person incentives to claims by some of cloudy business practices by Yelp themselves.

To be clear, Unit 120’s Alvin Cailan and Badmaash’s Nakul and Arjun Mahendro don’t specifically accuse Yelp as a corporation of trying to get their restaurants to pay for removal of negative reviews (as has been claimed in the past), but they do point out how hard it can be as restaurateurs to cater to seemingly entitled customers who seek to lean on their star rating as a way to get more out of their experience. In one particularly ugly episode, the Badmaash team recounts a man allegedly asking them to sing happy to birthday to someone at a table (the restaurant doesn’t do that), threatening them with a lower Yelp star rating if they didn’t comply.

The whole episode is compelling, and points to just how nuanced the relationship between the review platform, its users, and restaurants can be. There’s no denying, as the guys themselves mention, that a strong Yelp rating helps drive business and that there’s basically no better consolidated platform for diners to find information on their restaurants. But they also note that Yelp reviewers can often find distance between how they act in real life (say, mentioning to a server in real time when a meal isn’t right) and how they act online (dinging a restaurant for an issue that could have been corrected in person). It’s a common phenomenon in the internet age, and there are no easy solutions.

And so, Yelp will continue to succeed as an aggregate platform for information and user-guided reviews. That means restaurants and those who run them will still find it necessary to contend with the platform, for better or worse. But ask anyone in the restaurant industry about Yelp and you’ll get some pretty strong opinions back — it’s just that these guys are comfortable enough talking about it publicly.

The return of them Goldenboys

Looks like a return for the Goldenboys crew, as the creators are taking over the menu at Downtown’s Secret Chinese Delivery. Chefs Hunter Pritchett and Adam Midkiff now run the entire evening show (Wednesday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.) from the small kitchen on Olympic Boulevard, doing everything from Xi’an style cumin eggplant to crispy orange chicken sandwiches.

A shutter for Chalet Edelweiss

Another closer hits Los Angeles, this time on Sepulveda Boulevard as Chalet Edelweiss calls it quits. The Alpine-themed restaurant lasted eight years, and says in a note on their website that “it has been an amazing run.”

Ari Taymor talks Alma some more

Chef Ari Taymor heads to the Snacky Tunes podcast to talk about all things Alma, sharing along the way some details on the transition from the restaurant’s first iteration to its second life inside the Standard Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard. He also candidly discusses his big award win back in 2013, and everything that comes with such an award. Other Snacky Tunes guests include Wes Avila, the Toothpix team, and Bruce Kalman, among others.

All new Thai food takes

Same Same in Silver Lake is doing some mashup work with their existing Thai menu, crafting a “Pretty Thai For a White Guy” party on December 14 that will include a burger and bottomless red and white wine for $20. Apparently every guest will get a wooden elephant as part of the deal, and if/when that elephant gets knocked over, that diner’s deal is done. You’ll have to contact Same Same for details, but know that there aren’t many burgers on sale December 14, so if you want in on the 6 p.m. action you’ll have to show up on time.

Zebulon almost ready to blast off

Looks like yet another Frogtown tenant is gearing up for a future opening. Zebulon, the music/event/cafe space right next to Salazar, is close to arrival, as the below Instagram shot can attest. Once it arrives, expect even more awesomeness for the neighborhood next to the LA River.

Closer than ever...

A photo posted by Zebulon (@zebulonla) on