walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

Yelp and chain restaurants

Ezra Klein points to really cool research by Michael Luca which rallies a "novel dataset combining reviews from the website Yelp.com and restaurant data from the Washington State Department of Revenue". Basically, we all more or less know that we go to chain restaurants because they are predictable -- predictably mediocre, but at least not awful in the way that an independent restaurant can be. Turns out Yelp means we don't have to make this choice quite as often, because we can reduce the risk-of-awful enough to try independents.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/how-yelp-is-killing-chain-restaurants/2011/10/03/gIQAokJvHL_blog.html?wprss=ezra-klein

On the one hand, you could file this under, Duh. On the other hand, quantifiable! Super cool.

I particularly liked that Luca says this:

"For Seattle alone, the website had over 60,000 restaurant reviews covering 70% of all operational restaurants as of 2009. By comparison, the Seattle Times has reviewed roughly 5% of operational Seattle restaurants."

Reviews by unreliable amateurs of the restaurant you are thinking about going to are _far superior_ to reviews by trained experts of restaurants you are never likely to set eyes on, much less enter and eat at. Same principle for lots of other things, too; it's no wonder newspapers have so many problems.
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