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Yelp Says The Owner's Racist...

Here's my dilemma:
I live in a small town where there aren't a tremendous amount of good restaurants, especially not within different cuisines. I have found 1 Lebanese restaurant that offers a good sampling of typical Middle Eastern foods. I've only had their food once and it was take-out and very good.
I'm supposed to go out to dinner tonight and someone suggested we go to this Lebanese place. I will have my child with me, so I decided to do a quick check on Yelp to see if anyone mentioned whether it's child-friendly. Instead, what I found were a lot of gushing reviews of the food and ambiance, one review that said the food is great but "don't mention if you're Jewish" and another that said they saw the owner scream at some Jewish people who were checking to make sure that a dish didn't have pork in it.

I don't really want to patronize a racist. That said, I also know that people will take things out of context to try to defame business owners that they may not like for other reasons.
What would you do? Do you trust Yelp?

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  1. I would go! ~~ I trust Yelp just about as far as I could throw a bull elephant.

    Have Fun!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Uncle Bob

      Second this. If I knew for sure the owner was racist, though, I'd never step foot in the establishment again.

      1. re: Uncle Bob

        I agree with Uncle Bob.

        I won't go so far as to say that Yelp is useless, bit it is kind of like Wikipedia...a sometimes useful _starting_ point for info, but sometimes very unreliable and often downright inaccurate. Definitely not to be trusted as the last word.

        I wouldn't let what I read there stop me from trying a restaurant that has good buzz from people I know.

        I say go try the place.

        1. re: Uncle Bob

          I travel the globe extensively, and am always trying to book restaurants for those travels. I have looked at Yelp, and have been horribly underwhelmed. I rely much more on CH, to help me, if I am in a new area of the world, or want something different. Yelp? - well, others can have them.


        2. I personally would not go to a restaurant if I had strong evidence that the owner was racist. But...that is a decision each of us needs to make for himself...and, I certainly would not take the word of a single stranger posting on Yelp. And even if the owner did react negatively to someone's question about something containing pork, it's still a stretch to say that he is antisemetic. Aside from observant Jews, many Moslems eat only halal foods (quite similar to kosher, including no pork), and others may avoid pork for multiple reasons...allergy, distaste for it, unfounded fear of trichinosis, and yes, I knew someone who wouldn't eat pork because he grew up on a farm and had pet pigs to whom he became very attached!!

          3 Replies
          1. re: josephnl

            I thought that review was a bit strange too and I might have ignored it entirely if there wasn't a 2nd post that says not to mention if you're Jewish. I'm not sure why the poster said that, the rest of the post was about how good the food was.

            1. re: hyacinthgirl

              I have to wonder if the person who posted that was looking for a fight.

              1. re: EWSflash

                Or the cousin, sister, husband of the other yelp reviewer....

          2. Since Yelp is so commercial I don't really trust it.
            If one reviewer made such a harsh comment it usually means there was some "personal" issue involved and they have an axe to grind.
            FYI: There are many Lebanese Jews and Muslims who do not eat pork. I was about to write that the Lebanese people are friendly but that would sound ridiculous. Is there an unfriendly nationality?
            Lebanese usually cook with lamb, beef or chicken and rarely pork.
            We love Middle Eastern cuisine. Whenever we are on a road trip we try to find some hole in the wall Syrian/Lebanese restaurant to try out. Recently we found a gem in Scranton (Savory Maza) on the way to Syracuse and another in Cortland (Pita Gourmet) on the way back.
            Send us a review of the restaurant.

            1. I have been to this restaurant. The food is good but I have been there when the owner has demonstrated "racist" behavior. The owner has been badgered by potential patrons about whether or not they have Halal meats. I think the issue here is that the owner is sick of being assumed to be Muslim by the general population. I wouldn't have taken his side if I hadn't witnessed it myself. I spoke to him about this once and he said that he doesn't want to talk religion or politics etc. If you like his food come eat if not don't. At first I was taken aback but then realized he had a point.

              5 Replies
              1. re: melpy

                This is an interesting take. Before reading this I was wondering if the owner *was* Muslim and might have been insulted that someone was asking if he had secret hidden pork in his food. Because that could be construed as ignorant. However, your take does remind me of someone I know, a Canadian from Iran. His family background is Muslim but he doesn't follow the religion and eats whatever he wants. He gets irritated (although not openly angry) when Muslim people ask why he isn't fasting during Ramadan, etc. This kind of social/political pressure to fit a certain mold is a big reason why he left Iran, after all.
                However, a restaurant owner has to understand that a big part of the job is dealing with the public, and there are probably more gracious ways to deal with these conversations.

                1. re: julesrules

                  My take was similar to yours...that perhaps the owner WAS Muslim and felt insulted by the question...but obviously this isn't the case. It may have been rude for him to yell at someone who asked if there was pork in the food, but I'm not sure that alone qualifies as "racist."

                2. re: melpy

                  That makes me feel better about this particular place. I don't want to talk religion or politics with the person making my food either. It's not polite dinner conversation, right? :)

                  1. re: melpy

                    <The owner has been badgered by potential patrons about whether or not they have Halal meats>

                    Well, sometime you do have to mix religion with food, when your patrons do not want to eat certain food.

                    1. re: melpy

                      Thank you, melpy, that helps round out the picture.

                    2. If you heard (and/or understood) what some Chinese restaurant owners/staff say about white people, you might never ever step foot in another Chinese restaurant, either to eat in or take out.

                      I know this isn't a popular stance on Chowhound, but I don't let politics dictate my food choices. I've been to BBQ joints in the South that are outwardly racist (as in we have Klan paraphernalia as part of our decor), and it's never bothered me.

                      Because if you mix politics and food, where do you draw the line? What if the restaurant does business with a racist vendor? What if the restaurant only hires white people (b/c they are small enough to be exempt from anti-discrimination laws), or what if they voted for a congressman that was pro-life? Or whatever ...

                      I'd be more concerned with having your child witness rude behavior by a grown adult than patronizing a supposedly racist restaurant.

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        If an owner wants to flout their political beliefs--as in the joint with Klan paraphenalia--then I would be delighted to respond--by walking out the door. The other circumstances you mentioned are not likely to be things I know for sure so couldn't act upon those. I wouldn't eat in a restaurant and give them my money--and certainly wouldn't want my kids to see me give up my beliefs for a maybe good meal.

                        1. re: escondido123

                          To me it's a no-brainer. If a restauranteur openly demonstrates bigotry, I do not want to financially contribute to his cause. I'm not talking rumors here, or posts on Yelp. I'm talking personally hearing or seeing evidence such as Klan paraphernalia, swastitas, etc.

                        2. re: ipsedixit

                          There are at 3 individual restaurants or chains that I will not patronize because the owners openly and actively endorse positions that I cannot accept. I do not tell anyone else not to eat there and I don't make an issue of it. However, I do not believe that I should spend my hard-earned dollars advancing positions that disgust me. I also believe that I should be teaching my child to hold fast to her beliefs, too, even if it means missing a good plate of 'cue or a convenient burger. Some things are more important than how lunch tastes. YMMV.

                          1. re: rockycat

                            +1 to this, and the posts directly above. Principles aren't situational when something is as optional and discretionary as where to eat, no dilemma there.

                          2. re: ipsedixit

                            I'm pretty sure I'd draw the line at supporting a business that celebrates the Klan.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              If I saw KKK paraphernalia as a decoration I would leave.

                              Also I won't go to Chik Fil A because I don't support their beliefs. And back before I knew I used to get their sandwich every so often. Not now. Not anymore.

                              1. re: Disneyfreak

                                I think it all comes down to how passionate we are on each particular issue. Some issues we care more about, and some we care less.

                                For example, I don't think I or most people would care about the restaurant owner views on the Obama affordable healthcare act. I know it is a passionate topic, but most see it as a less personal one, but more of a governing topic.

                                1. re: Disneyfreak

                                  It's a very fine line for me.

                                  I agree with your assessment, I do.

                                  However, having said that....there are more and more establishments I'm finding out about that go against my beliefs. Using KKK or swastikas as a decoration, in a restaurant, is a blatant indication there's hate involved and I am NOT going to risk the chance of that hate being directed at me or anyone I'm with. Racism, antisemtism, is alive and well...that's a fact.

                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                  That's interesting to me. I do not know your ethnicity, and whether or not you would obviously be someone the KKK would target. Does your experience of the restaurant change if you feel there are specific signs up that say "Ipsedixits Not Welcome Here"?

                                  1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                    No, not really.

                                    In fact, I've dealt with that exact situation before, so I know what it's like.

                                    I've just learned to move on. There are certainly battles to be fought with respect to racism, patronizing (or not patronizing) a restaurant or a business, I find, is not the forum to do it in.

                                    Especially as a Chowhound, and especially given the original manifesto of Chowhound (http://www.chow.com/about), which is about "optimal deliciousness".

                                    That's all I'm going to say about it. Like I said up above, I know this isn't a popular position, and I'm not here to convince people that I'm right, nor do I want (or expect) others to convince me I'm wrong.

                                    (Also, just a point of clarification. There's a difference between celebrating a racist era, or group, and actively espousing those ideals. In other words, it's one thing to have framed pictures of the greatest Klan members of all time, and quite another thing to refuse service to all African-Americans. The two are not the same.)

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      "In other words, it's one thing to have framed pictures of the greatest Klan members of all time, and quite another thing to refuse service to all African-Americans. The two are not the same.)"

                                      Whereas such a display would and should clearly be read as "whites only."

                                      1. re: mcf

                                        Yeah, somehow I don't see black people clamoring to eat at this pro-KKK restaurant. Somehow, I suspect the only people who would be comfortable eating there would be those who are comfortable with the Klan's tenets...

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          <framed pictures of the greatest Klan members of all time>

                                          I won't able to stand it. I will have to walk out. Now, the grestest "Khan" will be different. I wonder if it is because of time. :)


                                        2. re: ipsedixit

                                          I agree. If it tastes good, eat it!

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            Racism and how any individual chooses to deal with it is pretty complicated.

                                            While choice of decor may put me off my food, actions speak louder than decor. E.g. there is one place that my SO's family likes to go to. When they go to the Maître d'Hôtel to get a table, we get seated in the fine dining room. If I go up without them (takes more than just my SO to be with me) right behind me, we get seated upstairs in the "cozy" dining area. This has happened with more than one Maître d'Hôtel at that particular location several times, so it's not coincidence (we tested). If I ask them to seat in their main dining room, they are fine with it, but I have to ask. Personally, it doesn't offend me much - actually I get a good chuckle out of it because I am pretty sure that that my presence in either dining room causes them far more discomfort than it causes me. Also my presence in the main dining room also helps to "fly the flag" so to speak in their establishment. Their actions also bothers my SO, but as you can tell we have gone back on occasion.

                                            Anyway, that example bothers me more than eating at a southern restaurant that has confederate flags in the decor but is in practice warm and inviting to me.

                                            I am not African-American, so based on a different personal and communal history, someone of difference ancestry may have a very different reaction to racist behavior or decor...

                                      2. If the food/service/cleanliness of a place is good I couldn't care less about anything else, much less the personal views of an owner. It sounds like the service at this joint may not be so stellar if staff is yelling in front of guests but that is a different matter. Further, who goes to a restaurant and announces their religion? Sounds like a prick thing to do if you ask me. Generally people who go around forcing their religious views on others are usually hypersensitive, not to mention that being Jewish isn't a race.

                                        Yelp is also a crapshoot. I once read a yelp review about a bookstore where the guy claimed the bookstore was discriminating against muslims because there was a book cart in front of the Muslim section(it was a hilariously long and angry review). I checked his other reviews for fun and he was basically going around town accusing every place he frequented of discriminating against Muslims in some way, shape or form. In this particular instance he returned to the bookstore a second time, the book cart was (the horror) still in front of the Muslim section and he confronted the guy working there. It was probably the most entertaining yelp review I ever read. I sincerely doubted that a small independent bookstore who had a Muslim section to begin with was discriminating against Muslims via placement of book cart.

                                        1. I guess some have not seen the *Curb Your Enthusiasm* episode on chicken....

                                          Also, I'm left to wonder, if you decide not to go to a restaurant based on what you believe is *racist* behavior by the establishment.....by you boycotting, could it not be construed you are also exhibiting racist behavior as well?

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: fourunder

                                            Not sure what you're saying.

                                            If a person of color walks into a restaurant and I witness obvious, blatant racist behavior and I decide to boycott the restaurant, you're saying I'm exhibiting racist behavior?

                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                Uh, no. It seems to be a new popular tactic among some - to accuse someone of intolerance if that person is intolerant of intolerance!!

                                                Just, no.

                                                1. re: fourunder

                                                  No, because no one is boycotting the business based on the race of the business owner. Racists/anti-semites/homophobes etc. aren't a race. Boycotting jerks isn't "racist".

                                                  1. I rarely go by one person's Yelp review...rather I go by the collective, the overall rating.

                                                    If I walk into a restaurant and get the sense I'm not welcome, for one reason or another, I'm not inclined to stay, regardless of how good the food is. A klan emblem on the wall of a restaurant that turns out great food? Or, for some reason I feel I'm not welcome for being who I am or sense the restaurant is being offensive to someone for being who they are? Um...NO. Why would I give them my business? The food, imo, would lose its taste very rapidly.

                                                    1. If it were a fact that the owner was racist I would not spend my money there. I don't go to Chik-fil-A either.
                                                      I own my own business and have fired employees for their biased/racist behaviour. It's called harrassment and we have a strict policy forbidding that.
                                                      When a client, thinking I was an "ally" started ranting on about "A RABS", "Sand N*****S" and "Camel Jockeys" I politely explained that he was referring to my dear mothers heritage (Not that it really mattered) and that he should leave and never return.

                                                      1. I would probably go try it. I don't necessarily trust Yelp but, more importantly, I don't trust the proclamations of random people on the Internet (except Chowhound, of course :)). If a friend/acquaintance had told me this, I wouldn't give the restaurant the benefit of the doubt, but I take Yelp with a grain of salt.

                                                        1. Who cares what the owner is as long as the food is good.
                                                          The owner of my favorite Italian restaurant hates Druids.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: beevod

                                                            I only go to Mime friendly restaurants.

                                                            1. re: Motosport

                                                              You should always remember that Mime is Money.

                                                              1. re: Motosport

                                                                LOL, a friend who's an advice columnist/humorist got hate mail from mimes once in response to a joke about them.

                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                  I'll bet they did not call and leave a voicemail!!

                                                                  1. re: Motosport

                                                                    It was fun imagining them in high dudgeon... over being referred to as "annoying."

                                                            2. I agree with Uncle Bob.
                                                              The only thing you personally *know* is that their take out is very good. Give it a shot.

                                                              1. I wouldn't trust Yelp about something this serious. I'd see for myself before making a judgment. In general, I don't trust Yelp if I really want to try a place. However, if a great majority of reviewers over a long period of time consistently say the food sucks, then I'd probably skip the place, because that has to do with the business quality. If we're talking about the quality of the owner's character, well, I think it's best to judge that for myself.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Isolda

                                                                  There is a hole in the wall upstate NY diner/luncheonette that was blasted by a reviewer who said they were biased toward American Indians! Go figure?
                                                                  Otherwise, the reviews were good so we tried the place for breakfast and it was decent.
                                                                  For what it's worth, no Oneidas or Mohawks came in while we were there.

                                                                  1. re: Isolda

                                                                    Agreed. And I'm also suspect when a review uses language that verges on the hyberbolic. The owner "screamed"? Really? Because they were Jewish? I'm not so naive to think this couldn't happen, but I'm also not so naive to believe one review that says it did.

                                                                  2. Tough call, isn't it? I agree with you that there is no good reason to support a business which is against your own core value. This is not the problem at hand. The real question you have here is really about Yelp. How reliable is it?

                                                                    I don't distrust Yelp as many here do, but I don't completely trust it either. Just think of the reviews you read as opinions of strangers, and take it from there.

                                                                    If I am you, I would go there, but keep my eyes open to the slightly hint.

                                                                    If I understand you correctly, you take racism as a very serious and personal issue. Because it is a very serious issue for you, then it is more the reason that you cannot judge the restaurant without real proofs.

                                                                    13 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                      Well, allow me to further state that I am Jewish, as is my son and the woman I would be dining with. None of us keep even slightly kosher and would never announce our reigion, except that the woman I would be dining with might sometimes wear a hamsa or a Chai necklace (in the same way that a Christian might have a piece of jewelry with a cross). I would have ignored one review, but it was two separate reviews that made me pause.

                                                                      If I discover that a business contributes directly to causes that I find abhorent (not merely ones I disagree with), I will no longer patronize that restaurant. I do not, however, go out of my way to research every business I patronize.
                                                                      I equally do not want to dismiss an organization or individual because of hearsay.

                                                                      Nor do I want an unpleasant evening. It worried me to take someone into a restaurant and into a situation that might be incindiary.

                                                                      I also don't really want to walk in and ask the owner if he is familiar with these Yelp reviews and could he please verify whether or not he's anti-semitic?

                                                                      Because I was unsure what situation I was walking into, I chose to direct our group elsewhere last night (even though I really was craving that food). Now, I will likely go in wearing a t-shirt with Hebrew or a Chai necklace myself and simply see what my individual experience is and decide from that in the future.

                                                                      1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                        < It worried me to take someone into a restaurant and into a situation that might be incindiary.>

                                                                        Very good point which I didn't take into account. Even though the chance is low, you are not risking yourself but your friend too, so now I can see the more caution approach.

                                                                        I think it is a good choice. It may not have been fair to this owner, but you are responsible for more than yourself, and I understand that and probably would have done what you did.

                                                                        1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                          As an aside, I don't know that a hamsa would interest the owner either way since Muslims, Jews, and Christians have all used it at some point. I've got one on now and I'm Catholic. I like your idea though. If there's any raised eyebrows at your obviously Jewish shirt, you'll have saved yourself a hassle. Then you can add your review to Yelp :)

                                                                          1. re: Hobbert

                                                                            While I know a lot of religions and cultures embrace Hamsas (and that it did not originate in Judaism), I've also seen some people point it out as Jewish, so I guess I tend to assume that without further context clues, some people will identify it as such. It's likely a faulty assumption.

                                                                          2. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                            <do not, however, go out of my way to research every business I patronize>

                                                                            Me either. However, I think alot of people do. I'm amazed at friends who've proclaimed their disdain for restaurants, and make it very clear, that they will not do business with them. Up until I talked to them I had no idea about the owner of that restaurant's political beliefs.

                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                              <I'm amazed at friends who've proclaimed their disdain for restaurants, and make it very clear, that they will not do business with them.>

                                                                              And then people wonder why we are becoming a more polarized country....

                                                                              Like they said, it used to be that disagreement in politics is just disagreement and the worse you can think of them as being "wrong". Now, people label the other side as being "evil".

                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                I think there is a difference between points of view you disagree with and points of view you find inherently wrong. For instance, there is a difference in finding out someone is a republican or democrat vs. finding out they're a Nazi.
                                                                                I know that there are people who will decide that anyone who disagrees with them is "evil," but it's also possible latindancer's friends might be people who discovered an owner's beliefs went beyond the agree to disagree level.

                                                                                1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                  <I think there is a difference between points of view you disagree with and points of view you find inherently wrong.>


                                                                                  <it's also possible latindancer's friends might be people who discovered an owner's beliefs went beyond the agree to disagree level.>

                                                                                  True as well.

                                                                              2. re: latindancer

                                                                                Your friends are probably more socially aware than mine are. I've only ever had two friends tell me they would not patronize a business and both were major retail outlets, not restaurants.

                                                                              3. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                <I would have ignored one review, but it was two separate reviews that made me pause.>

                                                                                It is very possible that those two reviews were made by the same person or by the same table. If the dates of the reviews are on the same day or only a day or two apart, I would assume this is one disgruntled customer writing overly exaggerated or completely made up reviews. And I wouldn't give them any weight.

                                                                                1. re: causeimhungry

                                                                                  I remembered the reviews being far apart and went back to check. Interestingly, I can no longer find the one that said not to mention if you're Jewish.

                                                                                  1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                    While it may be that the reviews were overblown - I would also wonder if the owner had animosity in regards to Israel vs those of the Jewish religion. While that wouldn't make a difference to some, it might to others in determining the context of "racist owner".

                                                                            2. I would not take any of this too seriously unless I witnessed it myself.

                                                                              1. Simply, I would not go back if I witnesssed any racist behavior. But I wouldn't take Yelp's word for it. (technically, one anonymous Yelp reviewer)

                                                                                1. Hyacinthgirl, You of course have to follow your instinct re. yourself and of course your son!

                                                                                  I have not read the Yelp reviews, but wonder how the first poster on Yelp knew that the questioners (those who asked about pork) were Jewish? I can't tell if someone is Jewish by looks alone, unless the diners were say, Hasidim or wearing a yarmukle or a shtreimel.

                                                                                  I don't blame you in the least that you don't want to patronize an Anti Semite, especially if this guy is so stupid as to air his dirty laundry in public. I'm just not sure that he is what the two lone commenters say he is....and I'm looking forward to your review when you do go.

                                                                                  1. Congratulations hyacinthgirl on a wonderful solution to this situation. I commend you. Looking forward to your review of the restaurant and the owner.

                                                                                    Racism and discrimination pervades humanity. And I chuckle whenever I read on various threads how to use this to your advantage. An easy example would be the "other" menu at certain Chinese restaurants.

                                                                                    I am a proud graduate of the Department of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute and received 14 credits towards a masters in counseling. When I would receive a complaint, I and my sergeant would conduct an evaluation for my general. The vast majority of times, it was miscommunication rather than outright discrimination. On the other hand, I daily observe preconceptions and unconscious evaluations that drive me nuts. And it is simply how people react to other people.

                                                                                    And if you want to boycott based on racism, then we will have to give up sushi as Japanese society is one of the most egregious when it comes to being racist.

                                                                                    Not everybody who runs a small business is a people person. Not everything you find on the internet is true. And I have learned to try not to judge people on my first impression. And not every person from the middle east is Muslim. Or a Jew. Or a hater.

                                                                                    1. If it's a Lebanese/Middle Eastern restaurant it will not have pork on the menu, at least certainly not in the Middle Eastern dishes. A Lebanese restaurant owner isn't going to start adding pork ingredients to standard dishes from the region for pretty much the same reasons we haven't started adding giraffe meat to our food - we have no history of doing so and the concept would be unthinkable. I live in the Middle East and have travelled all over the Muslim world and pork is an unthinkable, unapproachable concept to 99% of Muslims, even among secular Muslims. Only in the West will you find very secularized Muslims willing to eat pork but they sure aren't going to be adding it to traditional Middle Eastern dishes.

                                                                                      I would hazard a guess and say that the restaurant owner was probably irritated that people asked him if the dishes had pork products when in his viewpoint it would be so bleedin' obvious it won't have pork and even an affront to his religious sensibilities to ask that question. In other words it would be as irritating if someone asked me if my homemade cake has sugar in it. Well, d'oh, of course it does.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: Roland Parker

                                                                                        First - amongst the Lebanese in the United States a significant percentage are Christian and as such pork is acceptable. In the Middle East where there are traditional Christian communities there is the potential for pigs to be raised/pork is served in certain restaurants.

                                                                                        In some Middle Eastern countries its completely banned - but it's not such a complete prohibition. So if we're talking about secular Muslims in a country where it's available - maybe the percentage is 99% - but I don't really think so.

                                                                                      2. You can always click on a articular Yelp reviewer's name/handle to see what other reviews they've written. If they haven't written any others, it's a clue that they might have an ulterior motive for the negative review. On the other hand, if they've written a lot, and all others seem to reasonable and objective, that adds a good bit a credibility of the review in question.

                                                                                        I agree with the concept of doing research to become informed, but then making up my own mind -- especially where food is concerned!

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                          I did that. Both of these reviewers had posted plenty of other reviews and most seemed very positive. One of them had previous written a review of this restaurant and wrote a second downgrading them because of the yelling incident.

                                                                                          1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                            Hmm. At least you know the reviewers are more credible than some others on Yelp. No right or wrong answer other than what's right for you.

                                                                                            1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                              It seems to me that those review histories make it clear that certain discussions took place, but whether they were racist or just irritation (and bad customer relations) in response to the inquiries. may still possibly be matter of subjective interpretation.

                                                                                              Why am I thinking of the Soup Nazi all of a sudden?

                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                I totally pictured the owner as the Soup Nazi as well.

                                                                                          2. I personally wouldn't believe ANYONE from ANY Internet website including Chow.

                                                                                            One of LA's very best restaurants was destroyed by this same rumor "anti-Semite".


                                                                                            It is very, very easy in this Internet age to start a smear campaign against a restaurant, shop and even person. You can either get friends to join your campaign or create multiple IDs.

                                                                                            As to where this thread went, not going to restaurants because someone has a different political opinion seems just silly. Do you know the views of of the owners of every place you dine on every topic? It seems absurd to single out a place for a single view when they do other things you agree with.

                                                                                            Go and decide for yourself.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: scottca075

                                                                                              Many more restaurants have been ruined after they've been coined as "anti-dentite."

                                                                                                1. re: scottca075

                                                                                                  I absolutely agree that I would not trust any claim of racism or other prejudice that was posted anywhere on the Internet or reported elsewhere in the press. On the other hand if I were convinced that any business supported racism or other abhorrent prejudicial or political stances through either personal observation or by their public statements, this is not a business that I would personally choose to support.

                                                                                                2. Oh God, what a thread. I read through it nervously thinking that I probably would try not to mix politics and food and then I remembered that every time I walk past Chick-Fil-A I feel slightly ill and will not go there because I don't support the owner's politics. And I remember going to a restaurant where the male owner kept hanging around our table making slurpy comments about the waitress' breasts; we never went back. So maybe food and politics are inseparable.

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                      If I happen to know something about the politics of the owner (like in the Chick-Fil-A situation) and it totally revolts me, I would call it voting with my dollars instead of mixing food and politics. If I knew for sure that the owners of any business were completely bigoted, I would choose not to patronize them if possible. An owner coming out and stating that they have a certain political view is not the same thing as reading it on Yelp, of course--I don't believe anything on Yelp or other similar sites.

                                                                                                      1. re: IndyGirl

                                                                                                        < would call it voting with my dollars instead of mixing food and politics>

                                                                                                        Aren't they the same thing? And why is one worse or better than the other?

                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                          I don't mean one is worse or better than the other, just that choosing not to patronize a restaurant because the owner has come out publicly as [insert offensive belief here] is no different than avoiding a certain store or other kind of business.

                                                                                                  1. I am not enamored with Yelp, but maybe that is just me.

                                                                                                    However, I have ceased to patronize certain restaurants, due to their bias - but only directed at ME, and not via some social network.

                                                                                                    Fifteen, or so, years ago, we were at one of our twice-annual board meetings in London, staying in our flat in Mayfair, right at Shepard Market. We had heard of a particular restaurant, a block away, and decided to try them. I will not go into details, but think back 15 years. When we arrived, prior to the lunch rush, we were greeted, and then the host said, "You are American, no?" We nodded in the affirmative, and were seated next to the toilets in an empty dining room. The waiters refused to take our order, or even offer water. We were totally ignored for about 30 mins. We excused ourselves, and left, dining elsewhere. Over the years, there has been a hawker, out front, begging people to dine with them. We just smile at him, and go elsewhere.

                                                                                                    Even longer ago, we were in Hawai`i for an anniversary. I booked a "romantic table" at a very high-end restaurant (resort, where we were staying), and confirmed via letter and FAX. When we arrived, we were seated in the interior of the restaurant, though the entire area overlooking the Pacific was empty. I inquired, and was told that all of those tables (about 60 seats) were reserved. After 30 mins. with no one being seated there, I inquired again, and was told that all prime seats were reserved for any Japanese businessman, who might show up with a concubine, and that no Caucasians were allowed to sit in those spaces - just in case. Over the next 20 years, we stayed at that resort, and every night there was a "pillow talker," telling us that a prime table at ___ could be ours, if we would just call ____ . It was almost 25 years later, before we ever darkened their doors again, and only after my wife insisted that we give them one more chance.

                                                                                                    Though Jewish, that has never been an issue with me. Being a Caucasian American has.

                                                                                                    Discrimination happens, without fail, and one should just decide for themselves, if they wish to patronize any certain establishment.


                                                                                                    1. Yelp is obviously a whiners paradise, but if you see patterns in the reviews, and even positive reviews come with unsettling disclaimers, then it suggests validity.

                                                                                                      Still, if you're experiencing anxiety about an establishment - why go?

                                                                                                      We don't have enough to go on to judge this particular situation, because it doesn't entirely add up, but my wild guess is the review saying to hide one's Jewishness wasn't based on anything legit, it was simply the reviewers own biased presumptions and they meant it as a "pro tip".

                                                                                                      If I read correctly, we do have a Chowhounder confirming the owner's frustrations, and that he's talking to customers about similar issues, which might mean the situation hasn't been handled professionally. Whether the issues of prejudice may have occurred or been misconstrued the owner should be attempting to act as an ambassador of sorts, and welcome all people from all walks of life, knowing the power of a good meal. If someone asks something ignorant, it's his job to patiently explain to the customer why he wouldn't have pork on the menu, or in turn, realize why someone might automatically ask that before every meal, and show respect. Or simply joke about not talking politics, and turning the focus to having a good time, and enjoying his food.

                                                                                                      1. Reviews on Yelp and other such sites aren't necessarily by real customers. Owners and employees can post favorable reviews of their place anonymously, and rivals can make up negative reviews to harm their competition. Unless you have an edited source like Zagat, you need to be very careful about what you believe.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: John Francis

                                                                                                          I think it's also fair to comment that the Yelp reports of "this owner is racists" (or antisemetic/sexist/prejudicial/etc.) is entirely based on how the reviewer interprets the interaction. This is very different than sometime like a corporation's charitable donation to a cause or an owner's released public statement. Obviously, even those actions will mean different things to different people - but then you have an action in the public record that people can evaluate. In this case you're just evaluting someone's opinion.

                                                                                                          That being said - if I read a review where someone wrote "this place is discriminatory towards X group based on my experience" - I'd probably want to try it out myself first and not with a group of guests.