The owners of the Italian restaurant Botto Bistro must really hate Yelp.
The Richmond, California restaurant – which last year offered 25 percent off their pizzas to anyone who wrote a negative one-star review of the business (with the aim of becoming the worst-rated restaurant on Yelp) – has now upped its game and began offering 50 percent off.
Owners Davide Cerretini and Michele Massimo decided to follow the odd success of last year’s promotion by announcing the new special deal in Botto Bistro’s recent newsletter.
“Botto Bistro: the worst pizzeria ever,” the headline reads. “We are the shame, the disgrace, and the biggest insult to the Yelp community, and we love it! Do we have an attitude? You bet!
“Give us a one-star review on Yelp and we’ll give you 50 percent off any pizza. We at Botto would do anything for a one-star review, we walk your dog, we wash your car, we water your garden, we buy you groceries and we pay your rent and we take you to Disneyland. Hate us on Yelp and we will love you!”
While most of the contents of the newsletter are obviously tongue-in-cheek, the 50 percent discount is real – and so are the owners’ feelings about Yelp. Cerretini and Massimo are convinced that Yelp has been strong-arming businesses to buy ad space. “The blackmailing thing is ferocious,” Cerretini said. “I think I should be the one deciding if I’m on the site or not. At least I can be there on my terms. The only power they have is they make you reliable to them. So, I’m going to be one of the most unreliable restaurants. I want to be the worst restaurant there is in the Bay Area.”
Thanks to the scheme, Botto Bistro’s Yelp page continues to be peppered with fake one-star reviews – most of which Yelp has had to flag and remove. We decided to track negative Yelp reviews displayed on the pizzeria’s page:
Their anti-Yelp campaign is extremely unconventional, but the owners believe that it has helped Botto Bistro remain unaffected by any potential impact Yelp reviews may have (despite the fact that the review site has slapped the restaurant’s page with a consumer alert).
“In the meantime we are taking all the horrible reviews they are willing to write about us – at least we make them useful,” reads the newsletter. “Each one star is another slap in the face of Yelp. What are they going to do now when they don’t like us, give us a 5-star rating or two? Or maybe a mean 3 stars?”
The Italian restaurant even offers free cooking classes each month to the Yelper who writes the funniest and most sarcastic review. A free bumper sticker is also handed out to those who write one-star reviews of Botto Bistro.
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(Image credit: Botto Bistro)