Why One Restaurant Owner Asked Customers For 1-Star Reviews

Whether you're looking for a quality hotel, a good place to have dinner, or somewhere new to shop, you probably look at others' reviews. In general, people lean toward businesses with higher ratings and positive reviews because we want the best possible chance of receiving good service. However, reviews might not always be trustworthy. For example, one woman gave a Hard Rock Cafe a 1-star review because her servers had tattoos. If you've ever been to a Hard Rock Cafe, you know that tattoos are arguably part of the chain's aesthetic.

Anyway, ratings on sites like Yelp aren't always an accurate representation of a business. Some businesses pay to have people write fake glowing reviews to boost their ratings, according to NBC. Now it seems that other businesses offer incentives for customers to write 1-star reviews in order to send a message: You can't trust everything you read on the internet. 

Beating the rating system with bad reviews

Davide Cerretini, the owner of Botto Bistro, took matters into his own hands after Yelp started throttling his restaurant's ratings. According to The Hustle, Botto Bistro's 5-star reviews would disappear after Cerretini refused to pay Yelp to protect his ratings. Several 1-star reviews were suddenly boosted to the top of the list, clearly written by people who had never even set foot in Botto Bistro.

And so Cerretini decided to throw reputation to the wind. He started offering customers a 50% discount on pizza in return for 1-star Yelp reviews, per the restaurant's website. Botto Bistro quickly became the "worst restaurant ever on Yelp," says Did You Know Facts, a title Cerretini takes great pride in. So many customers posted 1-star reviews that Yelp was taking them down in thousands. After six years of his "Hate Us On Yelp" campaign, the restaurateur sold Botto Bistro at a profit to Mountain Mike's Pizza (via The Richmond Standard). Clearly, the counterintuitive review campaign worked out for Cerretini in the end.