Prior to the ubiquitousness of online reviews, restaurants, bars, etc. reaped a reputation on word of mouth and precedent within their community. Now, there’s so much to contend with—the likes of Yelp, Trip Advisor and other online review sites
Bad service is out there, definitely, but there's so much good service as well. However, Yelp isn't necessarily a good indicator of a place. To wit:
There are a few very high-end wineries in the Willamette Valley. They're more expensive than most, both for a tasting fee and for the price of a bottle. However, it’s a given that good service is offered and done with a smile. Sometimes there are laws or rules that present themselves, but no one is snobby or rude. Sometimes the tasting room is slammed with people and individual attention can't be offered. Sometimes, at the end of the day, some of the patrons are inebriated.
Yet on Yelp, many of the reviews are very negative about the staff. How's that possible? These are some of the most pleasant, engaging and accommodating people. They are far more hospitable than any hip spot in Portland. One can conclude that Yelp is some sort of extension of people’s preconceived perception of a place.
Yes, this winery is expensive, but everything down to the water decanter and landscaping imply that this a spot for luxury. One will spend some bank. That’s a fact. What’s not are the people working there, and this is where Yelp presents some problems.
It just seems to be a depository for singular incidents and at the mercy of the reviewer. There are always two sides to a story. Often the people were intoxicated, using a Groupon or Living Social (that’s another post altogether!) or somehow had a preconceived notion. Nothing would have pleased them. This is not to say that there aren’t valid reviews out there. It seems some people like to not be pleased, like to complain and Yelp is their platform to do so.
As the old saying goes, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say it at all." In other words, if you've had stellar experience at a winery, bar, restaurant (or any service industry business), give a good review. Check with your friends before hand, but don't rely on reviews on line. You probably wouldn't trust or agree with those folks opinion anyways.