Wednesday, March 14, 2012

12 Steps Down is not a dive bar... and Yelp is not useful

Curious as to the content of Yelp [note how I have my finger on the very pulse of the internet!], I figured I'd check out the reviews for a place I run a quiz once/week.  This would be, in effect, my gauge of Yelp.  Note that management hasn't put me up to this, I've just been hearing a lot about Yelp and was curious as to what was up with it.

The vast majority of Yelp reviews of 12 Steps Down contain the phrase "dive bar," with only one person using the phrase to note that this is inaccurate.

Most of the morons on Yelp have apparently come to the conclusion that any place without white tablecloths and/or a coat check is a "dive."

Dive bars tend not to have kitchens, and if they do they aren't carmelizing onions, nor are they doing anything with leeks.  They don't have microbrews available and there aren't paper towels in the bathrooms.  Heck, they probably don't have bathrooms in the plural.  They certainly don't serve fries with two dipping sauces, neither one ketchup.

For me a dive would be a place that hardened alcoholics drink because they can't afford other places and/or other places might not allow them in.  A dive would be not just a place where zombie Charles Bukowski might drink, but a place where he would drink by default because not drinking is not an option, and the bar he really wants to be in has banned him.  Dirty Frank's, for example, aspires to dive status, which requires the odd purge of functional customers.

A lot of the reviewers are 22 and recently arrived in the city from some suburb.  This becomes apparent when throwing around phrases like dive bar and ghetto when what is really meant is corner bar and urban environment.  And I don't mean "urban" as code for "black", I mean city.  Many people see rowhomes - sometimes half million dollar rowhomes - and assume that's automatically "ghetto."  This alone should disqualify the validity of any opinions from the same person on anything in a city such as this.

Several reviewers called it a "hipster bar."  I don't see it, not at all.

Bizarrely one other reviewer called 12 Steps a "sports bar."  Most of the time I've been doing the quiz over the past 4 years or so, despite being able to see most of the room, I have not even been able to see a TV from where I sit.  Stranger still this person was not complaining that 12 Steps is a terrible sports bar, but that it was possible to watch a game and that some people might have been doing so.

The secondary Yelp complaint about 12 Steps is that they card customers, expect valid ID and refuse to serve people who come in loaded.  Well, yes.  Yes they do.  The complaint, in other words, is that 12 Steps is compliant with the law and retains a liquor license!  Some other bars in the neighborhood could and should take note.

It's fine that people have their own opinions.  What isn't fine is when people create their own facts.  Unfortunately most people on the internet, reflecting American society on the whole, can't tell the difference between the two and don't care to make the effort.

What's sad is that the Yelp business model is to make money by giving any moron a megaphone to trash small businesses, and give this ignorance the imprimatur of validity.  Things are apparently bad enough that a Yelp Sucks site exists.

Incidentally only a couple of people mentioned the quiz.  One Roger Ebert wannabe thought it was too hard.  That's a good sign for me.  The quiz is not for morons.

Yelp: 0 out of 5 stars.  If this is the picture drawn of a place I'm in regularly I know to disregard the picture of places I've never been.

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