Old Vine Cafe Starts Petition Asking Yelp to Hold Members Accountable For Libelous Reviews

Categories: Really?!?!?
mcdonald.jpg
Mark McDonald, moving on up

We've always loved Old Vine Cafe and the McDonald brothers, Mark and Brandon, who run it. We've also loved how the two will engage with any criticism leveled at them over at Yelp. Some might call it being thin-skinned; I say it's instantaneous response to any slights that customers might have felt.

As a result, however, some Yelpers love nothing more than to pile on ridiculous pronouncements on Old Vine--not that it does much to sway the sturdy four-star rating they have (for those of you who care; we sure as hell don't). But the personal attacks against the McDonalds finally went too far for them, and they've now declared war on the site.

On Sunday, Mark sent out a Facebook message to fans alerting them to a petition they had just posted on Change.org titled "Stop Yelp: Start holding Yelp accountable for the reviews written on their website!" The trigger was a one-star review left on Old Vine's Yelp page which not only slammed Old Vine for their service, but also threw in a personal dig at the McDonalds' father AND claimed Mark called African-American customers "monkeys."

"It is time to hold Yelp accountable for these libelous statements," reads the petition. "Stop allowing 'yelpers' to post libelous statements while hiding behind the cover of their computer screens. Start holding Yelp accountable for the false, misleading, and malicious reviews posted on their website."

Tellingly, Yelp took down that libelous comment that offended the McDonalds (I, of course, saw it but was too stupid in assuming Yelp would leave it up to bother taking a picture of it).

"Do we think a petition alone will solve this problem?" Mark concluded in his Facebook message. "No, but it will help us draw some attention to this issue, and provide some social media capital for facing Yelp head on."

Ooh, this is going to be fun...

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Location Info

Old Vine Cafe

2937 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA

Category: Restaurant


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38 comments
Tduda
Tduda

I am in the pet sitting business and where I live you must have a business licenses to do any business. There are several "so called" pet sitters listed on Yelp that don't have business licenses and are doing business illegally. They also have their friends post reviews, you can tell by looking at the reviewers "friends" list. Yelp doesn't protect anyone but themselves. Even if you can prove a review is exaggerated or done by competitors, they don't care and don't take it on themselves to remove. Instead the small businesses suffer. In this economy, small business can't afford the extra bumps in the road. I hate Yelp

Jonathan
Jonathan

I don’t think YELP should continually get away with legal immunity using the CDA as their weapon, when it is well known that YELP has alleged to have used, abused, manipulated, lied leaving businesses and individuals ravaged in their wake, while using their multi-billion dollar scheme and leverage to destroy people and businesses through manipulating so called bad and good reviews through a filter that YELP controls.Remember, that when YELP began, they 1st hijacked your business listing without your authorization or approval and simply posted your business on their servers, all while allowing fake, false, ficticious, not real people to post anything they wanted under your business name. How can YELP say they are just an internet service provider, when they single handedly decided what and how they would post false, melicious, and fake information about you through their so called filter. Well as you know, it is YELP controlling their filter, so it is they that are manipulating how and if information is transmitted right under your business name all on their servers, and out of your control, and ultimately out of the so called reviewers control. This makes them culpable and liable and they need to pay for the billions in losses they have caused American businesses through their continued libelous actions. Then YELP cleverly along with your unauthorized listing, had a link suggesting you "CLAIM YOUR BUSINESS". Well, you followed the link thinking you would gain some sort of control over your business rather than just let anonymously fake people lie about you on YELP’s servers. But what you found out like everyone else, was that you just handed authorization over to YELP to allegedly continue slandering you, along with manipulating every piece of information they have transmitted under your name and listing.If this isn't slander and libel by YELP, then what the heck is. YELP is banking on the fact, that they have the billion dollar leverage to run you and any attorney over like a steam roller, because until years from now when all states attorney generals and the feds, decide that the CDA must be ammened, and new laws added to deal with the likes of YELP who is allegedly nothing more than a greedy, lieing sack of you know what. Yes, it is alleged to be equal to the fraud of wall street and all the scams that have gone along with that tobocle, because it is alleged that YELP is bordering on "anti-trust" behavior. Here's how: They use their multibillion dollar power, and their selective "filter" process to leave all small businesses as a "class" and "whole group" at a leveraged disadvantage, by allegedly transmitting largely negative libelous and slanderous information about your business, while at the same time, preventing and filtering positive and good information about your business from getting through and transmitted via YELP. This situation may not fit into the classic definition of "anti-trust" law, because it doesn't involve just (1) company leveraging (1) single other, but it does ask the question, when does it fall under "anti-trust" laws if YELP is doing it to a whole group and class of small businesses combined, and to hurt them all together (which it is alleged YELP continues to do to this minute). When in business, name and reputation determines success, failure, profit, and loss, YELP has launched a direct assault on small business through their alleged libelous, slanderous, and manipulative actions through their manipulative and selective  "filtering" process, costing small business losses estimated in the billions.I will gladly join any lawsuit against YELP that will have an experienced law firm going after YELP for the billions of dollars of losses and destruction they have allegedly caused businesses, peoples names, and reputations through their alleged deliberate, melicious, and libelous acts. If you go on YELP’s website, you will discover that YELP allegedly encourages you to sue the so called people who are posting the fake and false reviews under your business name that YELP had no business listing in the 1st place without your consent. Allegedly YELP has done this in an effort to try to shield themselves and deflect litigation off of them, because they already know they have manuipulated, selected, and controlled every bit of information they have transmitted about you . . . and of course because the majority of reviewers are fake, false, don’t exist in real life, or never use their real names anyway . . . YELP already knows you would never bother trying to sue anyone under those circumstances.If this wasn’t being conducted by YELP on the internet, and it was being done in your local newspaper; do you think for a minute the newspaper could hide behind their "errors and omissions" insurance. That’s right you would have already gotten a big fat settlement out of their insurance company along with retractions and public apologies. But would that make your business whole? I want you to remember everytime you think of YELP, as if they allegedly built their business by destroying yours . . . because allegedly that is exactly what they have done, and will continue to do, until someone more powerful than them, can put them right out of business for good!Let me know what you think . . . and unlike the last class action attempt on the basis of extortion, lets have a real smart law group go after them for the reasons I just mentioned, and be sure that the CDA is not the focus that YELP will try to make it, so they can hide behind it. There are other means of attack here, lets find a way of getting at YELP where it will hurt . . . in their pocketbook, and just maybe, some of the dirty money they allegedly made and stole from you by destroying your business, can come back to you in many different forms along with seeing YELP’s reputation go down in flames on its own merits . . . because they SUCK!Here is a link to an interesting perspective on how YELP has used and abused the CDA:http://www.growmap.com/communi...Here is a link that explains and shows further how YELP is allegedly "manipulating" NOT merely "filtering" and transmitting alleged libelous and slanderous information directly under your name: http://yelp-sucks.comIf anyone knows of that smart law group I talked about, willing and interested on taking on multi-billion dollar YELP on a probono basis, while we wait around for someone in the house and senate who isn't being funded by YELP, to sponsor a bill ammeding the CDA so that YELP cannot allegedly fraudulently hide behind that obsolete 1996 law, and in an effort to try to recoup just about every business listed on YELPs losses . . . then feel free to contact me. I am based in New England and Boston, but am posting this in D.C. hoping some honest hard working legislator and attorney will stop this alleged fraud!

Raymond
Raymond

Ever since I came across Yelp, I clearly understood one thing; their motion is to divide and conquer and confuse our hard working business owners! Many reviews are on my business link, but not even one makes any sense or is true. True statements are filtered and removed as our distinguished customers are telling us as they return every time.

katroushka
katroushka

Wow, what a debacle.  I'm compelled to throw my two centavos in.  

First, knowing the restaurant, McDonald brothers and said "pregnant lady" personally, I feel qualified to comment.  Unlike some.  

Secondly, if the lady wasn't offended by the response to her question about unpasteurized cheese, you shouldn't be either.  And she wasn't.  

Finally, yes, the brothers have strong opinions, and don't mince words.  Some of us think that's the best damned thing about them.  They also have really, really strong opinions about food, especially the food they serve.  Some of us think that's the best damned thing about the restaurant too.  I like a chef that knows why he does what he does, actually thinks about the food he's preparing, and is prepared to defend it to the death.  To ask them to change a dish so carefully conceived and executed is rude.   So eat it the way it's served - the person making it worked hard to get it exactly that way.  You might even learn something new.

The McDonald brothers love good food.  They make damned good food.  I love the damned good food they make.  And they're great people.  I'll defend that to the death too.

JB
JB

I have no affiliation with any restaurants.  I dine out often and keep tabs on the restaurant scene in OC.  Never crossed paths with the McDonalds (unless you count the time I passed Mark McDonald while walking in The Camp, and, being the peasant that I appeared to him, he turned his nose up in smugness). 

I used to watch the show American Idol because I loved how brutally honest Simon Cowell was.  Some have portrayed the bluntness of the McDonalds as being similarly timely and justified...i.e., it's about time restaurateurs snapped back at clueless patrons, and it's better for everyone if we educate them or send them on their way. 

Sorry, but I see it completely differently.  We have many great chefs and restaurateurs in OC, and virtually all of them are known for having a flawless record of being even-tempered and grateful.  And then we have the McDonalds, who have many fans, but also have a chunk of people who have innocently locked horns with them or been alienated by them.  That's a reputation that a Yelp petition unfortunately can't change. 

Mark
Mark

By design yelp is reviews by amateurs w/ no standards whatsoever.  And to some extent the idea that thereis no such thing as bad publicity has merit.  However, yelp has a built in feature where any registeredyelp user can flag an offensive post. Once flagged the post is sent to an actual person at yelp for review.  If it contains profanity, personalinsults, rants, accusations & other slanderous statements, it isremoved.  As responsible yelp userswe should all flag reviews we feel are offensive.  Once removed, it sends a clear message to the offender thatthey have overstepped appropriate boundaries.  

Potrero Post
Potrero Post

Completely agree with Shambhala!! What competing restaurant's paying for your straw comments, JB?? 

Born and raised in Newport, after living in Central America for five years, then coming home for a bit and trying all too many new (read: lame, kitsch) places that cropped up in the costa mesa/newport area, I found OVC a thoroughly innovative and, sorry JB, exceptional dinner. I hope they're there to stay. The two brothers were engaging and the food, some of the best I'd had in a really, really long time. And we tried a lot of it. I wasn't dissatisfied with anything.

When I go home I usually go to old haunts like Catalina Fish Kitchen, Bodhi Tree, Alta, Wafu and now am stoked to count Old Vine among the vetted favorites. 

And, please, JB, do follow through with your "I don't dine where I'm not respected". (I'd be livid if some carepicha like yourself took the last prosciutto-wrapped artichoke heart for the night).  Cheers!

Shambhala
Shambhala

JB your argument with Gustavo is weak.  You simply were not there and he was.  Therefore, any rational person would have to conclude that you clearly have a personal problem with the McDonald's.  Are you the owner of a competing restaurant?  I wouldn't doubt it.  You might as well post its name to get some PR.  Maybe Gustavo can show up, but only if you serve him Peruvian guinea pig.  And there better not be a single fly in your place!

Josh S.
Josh S.

Yelp is what you use it for.  Obviously some reviews are fake and done by the business to fluff their rating and some criticisms are BS as friends of some slighted reviewer pile on and attack the business.  If you have half a brain, you can see that while reading the reviews.  It mainly helps give you an overall feel for how the public views a business and maybe keys on some highlights of that business or helps you to avoid wasting your money.  Is it perfect, of course not but they have methods of dealing with that and it is up to the business to "police" their own reviews and be proactive when they receive a complaint.  I have received numerous contacts from business owners when I have been critical of a business and they have offered to fix it or give me my money back.  Sometimes the 2nd time around, my opinion changes, sometimes it doesn't but at least they made an effort.  Use your own brain and filter out the BS and use Yelp as it was intended. 

JB
JB

I just went to Yelp page for Old Vine Cafe, probably for the first time.

Reviewers "Michelle M." of Aliso Viejo (9/8/11) and "Robert R." of San Francisco (7/31/11)aptly capture why the Brothers McDonald just don't get it.

Within a very balanced and calmly articulated review, Michelle M. recounted how the chef(self-identified as Mark McDonald)"snapped" the words "LET ME FINISH.  You can leave if you like" at her husband when he raised a seemingly legitimate concern over the swarm of bugs. 

Similarly, Robert R. recounted how a waiter (self-identified as Brandon McDonald) condescendingly said, "Have you heard of Europe? They eat unpasteurized cheese all the time" when his pregnant (that's right, pregnant) wife expressed concern while ordering. 

Both of the McDonalds apologized to their respective critic on the Yelp page, apologies that also breathlessly whined about the challenges of running a restaurant and smothered the reader with a fact-dense defense of why eating raw milk cheese is so obviously much more safer than eating a saltine cracker. 

What's more evident than cheese safety, though, is that the McDonalds are arrogant, nasty, self-important menaces (especially, it seems, Chef Mark) who seem annoyed that hopeless little peas known more commonly as "customers" get in the way of their exaggerated vision of how they are clearly changing the world with their little derivative cafe. 

No online forum should be used to make unsubstantiated charges of racist comments. 

But I have one question for you:which do you think is more representative of one's motives and integrity: quietly running a business where you respect your customer (Dee Nguyen of Break of Dawn, Jason Quinn [and his dad] of Lime Truck and Playground, etc. etc. etc.), or starting a petition to demonize the (surprisingly rational) Yelp reviewers who dared to question something about your business -- or, as the McDonalds so sensitively characterize it,post "false, misleading, and malicious reviews." 

Punkndrublic911
Punkndrublic911

Yelp is, for the informed and educated, worthless.

Reviews of restaurants posted by 16 year olds who know more about Chef Boy A'rdee than Chef xyz are what drives content and completely worthless.  I sat at two different restaurants recently watching goober-eyed kids with digital cameras set up on mini-tripods taking pictures of food as if they knew what they were eating.  It happened that restaurant was new and they wanted "first whatevers" on Yelp to be cool.  They knew nothing about the homemade pasta they were eating, the chimichuri sauce nor the ravioli.  To them it was yummy food and a way to be first on yelp.  Hip factor ruins yelp's creditibility, not help it.

I say take yelp and shove it.  Eat good food and explain it and put your mommie bought camera away, you goobs.  Paint the pictures with your words if you know what you are eating.

Chubbypanda
Chubbypanda

Well, Yelp could always go the route of Blizzard Entertainment and require real names for all accounts.  That cut down on the trolling right quick.

Mark McDonald
Mark McDonald

Wow! For someone who has never crossed paths with Me or Brandon, you sure have a strong opinion of us. I bet if you got to know us you would change your mind. Do you have a full name? 

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

"...being the peasant that I appeared to him, he turned his nose up in smugness"

Come on, JB, really? That's a big leap right there.

And no, JB is not a shill. Occasionally wrong, but not a shill.

Mark McDonald
Mark McDonald

Unfortunately, flagged reviews are rarely removed, even if they do contain profanity, personal insults, rants, accusations and other libelous statements.  

909Jeff
909Jeff

The old adagethat the customer is always right is bullshit... Most customers don’t know whatthey want or are basing their knowledge on what they "think theyknow" and the more successful your business the more latitude you have.

When itcomes to a restaurant who is the professional? the Chef is... If the dumbasscustomer who demands a well done steak slathered in A1 were the professionalthey would be in the restaurant biz. The reason they aren’t is because nobodyfinds beef jerky with a vinegary sauce to be appetizing.

Why not givethe customer what they want? Because it’s a double edged sword, if you turn outa quality product and some know it all foodie shows up and demands you tochange your recipe to suit their liking and they end up not liking it then theywill probably skewer you on a dish you don’t even serve in the first place.

Example, Iknow of an Italian eatery in SF where they serve legit northern Italiancuisine. If a customer comes in demanding lasagna or any other baked pastaswimming in sauce with an inch of cheese on top the staff will politely pointthem up the road to Olive Garden. As they put it "We don’t serve Wop Slophere"! Someone not in the food service business finds it hard tounderstand why someone would turn away business, and the answer is simple...Because they can. the line out the door says so. Lastly a lot of chefs workvery hard to establish a solid reputation and aren’t going to let some customercome in and demand things because its the way Rachel Ray does it.

Could theMcDonalds be Douche Bags? Its possible, and time will tell... But if you dontlike a place dont go there but dont make up stories about them being racist...Of course if they are white and in Orange county arent we all racist... Que No?Gustavo

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

JB: Funny you mention that first post, as I was actually there when it happened, and the lady flat-out lied!

Chefmarkmcdonald
Chefmarkmcdonald

I guess JB does not have a full name, but just strong opinions about those he does not know. I wonder if he even exists?

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Yeah, JB definitely ain't know shill and does know his stuff—but his crusade against Old Vine is just weird...come on, JB, Mark doesn't even know who you are to turn up his nose at you!

Mark
Mark

I only know of two flagged reviews and both were removed the following day

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

And for that, all you have to do is look at the still-uncurated one-star reviews of Red Medicine after the staff threw S. Irene Virbila out. None of them had been there, half of them said so in their reviews, yet the reviews remained.

Potrero Post
Potrero Post

Yelp clarified: Office for Victims of Crime. Epa! 

JB
JB

The pregnant woman didn't ask the McDonalds to make her chicken fried spam, she asked a thoughtful question about cheese...and was mocked for it.

The belligerence and arrogance of the McDonalds leads me to reasonably conclude that don't give not even a tiny squat about their customers, and are deeply absorbed in their own perceived wonderfulness.  Maybe it's just me, but I don't want to dine where I don't feel respected. 

JB
JB

What did she lie about? 

909Jeff
909Jeff

So smilesformiles what is it your getting at... Fundamentaly we agree.  All im saying is opinion of maltreatment does not constitute Libel. We both agree that to throw out the race card unsubstantiated is horribly irresponsible.   I'm not sure where your rant about Shizophrenia comes into play?

smilesformiles
smilesformiles

I'm replying to 909jeff. I also own a small business not in the food industry. We as business owners treat everyone equal. everyone pays the same price, everyone gets the same service. We are NOT responsible for your or any ones personal insecurities or inadequacies of the race that you are. To call someone racist is a heavy accusation that I'm hearing a lot lately. Who are they to know how the operations run or why someone else was seated/served before them. Or why their food came out first? The server does not know you are a bad tipper, YOU DO. So your perception is not REALITY. In fact we have a disease known as Schizophrenia. Its when your personal perception of life and whats happening around you differs heavily with the reality that the rest of us are living in.

909Jeff
909Jeff

While irresposible I would not call them libelous, If I feel that the server or management is being disrespectful I have the right to suggest that they are being "Jerks".  Throwing out the race card unsubstatiated is irresposible but at the same time perception is reality. If that customer percived that they were being ignored because they were Asian then they have the right to express that.  It doesnt help that umongst servers in the industry there are the un-written and often sterotypical and racist rules.One of those, be it true or not, is that Asians are lousy tippers.  Perhaps the two girls in question know that this sterotype exists and felt alienated.  As you can see from my post above I am mostly on the side of the McDonalds but after reading the yelp reviews I hardly think Libel is the proper term. Maybe there are more examples that Mr McDonald can provide.

Mark McDonald
Mark McDonald

@ Mark: How about t.c.'s review encouraging patrons not to spend their money at Old Vine Cafe because the managers are jerks? Also, take a look at Crystal "jowjow" J's review where she make a dangerous accusation that our servers are racist? These are just two examples of libelous statements that are unacceptable, and can be harmful to any business, and they were both flagged by more than one person. Below are links for your reference.

http://www.yelp.com/user_detai...

http://www.yelp.com/user_detai...

Heather
Heather

You obviously only looked up the first page of reviews (of almost 600) and found two to base your post off of. Do you know them? It is this just a forum for all the bad experiences you have had at restaurants? Seems to me like you are just as bad as the person who posted similarly unfounded comments.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Then as I said that would be a douchey move and she shouldnt go there again.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

@ff207e29bdb2f0f90eb4ccc13910a890:disqus Except it's true. Who else is reviewing and hunting out these little gems? Who's saving people from Javier's? Oh, that's right—Gustavo.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

I said "we," not "I," and I stick by that assertion. Talk about someone trying to pick a fight where there is none—who's the douche again?

js
js

Right Gustavo - Everyone tries regional Mexican food because of you. Such a snobby and douchey thing to say. Get over yourself.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

First off, Yelpers are HARDLY rational—witness the undue infatuation with M & M Donuts, then move on to their utter fear of regional Mexican food until we review it. As to the actual complaining Yelp review: Mark never snapped at them, was wholly apologetic and more than accommodating to them. Not only that, there was "hardly" a swarm of flies there; there were maybe two or three. Happens at restaurants where you open the windows, you know?

I know this because the chica and I sat about three tables away (fly-free!) and laughed at what whiners they were. The only thing I'll fault Mark for is not offering them another table—and maybe he did.

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