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Below 4 Stars, Your Diners Starve

We here at ReviewTrackers know the impact reviews can have on a restaurant, but we wanted to know exactly how many customers would outright refuse to eat at an established restaurant with an average 3-star review across the major user-generated review websites. So, we went out and asked over 500 internet users of various backgrounds, age 25-50 year olds, and conducted over the course of 3 weeks:

Would you eat at a restaurant that had a 3-star review on a review website?

33 percent of frequent restaurant-goers stated that they would never eat at a restaurant with an average 3-star review on online review websites, such as Yelp, Google and Facebook.


The graphic above utilizes data from an additional study conducted by Berkeley Researchers on the impact of reviews and a Harvard Business School study by Michael Luca.

Why 3 stars?

We chose 3 stars because 67 percent of all Yelp Reviews are 4 or 5-Star reviews. This can be interpreted a number of different ways, but the bottom line is that 67 percent of all Yelp pages don’t have anything to worry about. If you’re one of the remaining percentage, this statistic should perk your ears. Most businesses cannot afford to operate at 2/3 capacity.

Chris Campbell, founder and CEO of ReviewTrackers, also says, “A half-star improvement on Yelp’s 5-star rating makes it 30 to 49 percent more likely that a restaurant will sell out seats during peak hours. I can’t think of a single restaurant that doesn’t want a 30 percent increase in sellouts.”

It seems we have entered an age when customers can quickly become online critics, forcing restaurants to deal with Yelpers – or reviewers on TripAdvisor, Google+, Facebook, etc – who may be impossible to please and too quick to rant.

Online Reviews have proven to affect sales. Incorporating reviews as a regular feature of digital channels can help you attract more people, generate more leads, and give a business more visibility, as a recent report on AdWeek stated. It seems the more reviews a restaurant has, the greater the likelihood of a higher overall rating. An increase of 8 to 100 reviews can result in an increase in your natural search traffic through search engines such as Google.

How have reviews impacted your business? Leave your comments below!

Chris Campbell

Chris is the CEO of ReviewTrackers. He has helped tens of thousands of businesses hear, manage, and respond to what their customers are saying online.


  1. California Dreamin

    This seems a bit scary until you realize that most reviews are pretty positive.

    • Hans Anders

      I’m pretty sure that 4 or 5 stars makes up more than half of all reviews.

  2. aem

    “Most businesses cannot afford to operate at 2/3 capacity”

    but they have no choice …

    reviews management is very important for restaurant located in famous place, who live of tourism …

    word of mouth has no place here, and tripadvisor replace that …

    to answer to fears …


  3. Arnoldi

    I like hanging out in a local pub which has a hole in ceiling and worst toilet ever. It could not have more than 2 stars on Yelp, but I still love to have drink there. Good reviews usually attract stuck-up people and soon a local working-class watering hole could turn into fancy cafe.

  4. Lisa Burner

    Having less than 3 stars means you have more dissatisfied than satisfied customers. Of course I wouldn’t eat there!

  5. moolahmachine

    67% of restaurants have an average 4-5 star reviews, but think many of those reviews are fake. A restaurant with 3 star average review is the perfect place to dine. They are probably aware of their rating and they will treat every new customer as they are celebrities, so the customers can help them fight their way back to 4-5 stars. In such restaurants you will have the best service, best food and even some discounts. The 3 star restaurants are my favorite dining spots.

  6. Jay Bird

    Maybe it would be better to change star-based system to: Great! (5 stars), Acceptable (4 stars) and Avoid (1 star). What are 2 or 3 stars? If it was not-so-great then give it Acceptable (4 stars). Everything under this standard is unacceptable.

    • Nathan Roets

      Something similar to the Michelin Star rating, perhaps? Could look like this:
      5 Stars: Worth a special trip (excellent)
      4 Stars: Worth a detour (great)
      3 Stars: If you happen to pass by, it’s worth stopping here (acceptable)
      2 Stars: Less than acceptable, but will do in a pinch (last resort)
      1 Star: Just go to McDonalds (avoid)

  7. Amanda Eicher

    I can be super cautious when it comes to picking out a new restaurant. Where you eat can directly affect your health and you want to make sure you are going somewhere that not only has good food but is also clean and friendly. That is why it is so important that your restaurant have a strong online presence with the ability to draw customers in.