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Phoenix restaurant worried Yelp burying some of its positive reviews

Posted at 11:06 PM, Aug 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-08 09:38:10-04

A Valley business is sounding the alarm about a certain Yelp feature that some users may not even realize exists.

It's hard to miss The Porch restaurant off 40th Street and Indian School in Phoenix. Right now it has a rating of 3.5 stars on Yelp, but it is the number of 4-star and 5-star reviews essentially hidden from potential customers that's causing so much concern.

Executive Chef Paul Linsday admits things got off to a rocky start when the restaurant first opened in November. "We will be the first to admit that we opened too quickly," said Lindsay.

The restaurant rebounded with a steady stream of dedicated locals, but there's new concern over attracting tourists in the fall and spring.

"What do they use? Yelp," said Lindsay. That is why he wants to shine a light on the hundreds of reviews potential customers might not see.

There are nine 1-or-2-star reviews and 155 4-or-5-star reviews buried in the "not recommended" section at the very bottom of the restaurant's Yelp page.

"It's just a little bit alarming to us that it's so lopsided," said Lindsay. "Our online marketing guy [has commented] 'I've never seen this in all the years I've done this.'"

A Yelp spokesperson tells ABC15 their automated recommendation software is "engineered to highlight the most useful and reliable content to weed out possible fake reviews, biased reviews and unhelpful rants or raves."

Yelp puts those reviews in the "not recommended" category until it can learn more about the users behind them. The spokesperson also adds those reviews "won't be factored into the business's star rating."

Still, Lindsay wants users and other business to be aware.

"It does affect us, ultimately it does," he said. "Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but down the road it will."

Yelp also says the company treats advertisers and non-advertisers "exactly the same" and says it recommends about 75 percent of reviews.

The Porch points out they have a higher rating on Google Reviews.