Penny For Your Thoughts

California Food Chain Offers Discount to Yelpers

Mel’s Drive-In, a chain of retro California diners, has been offering a unique and thoroughly modern discount: write a review of the restaurant on Yelp, the user-generated review site, and bring it into the restaurant to receive 20 percent off your meal. Jared Rivera, of the restaurant PR firm Rivera Public Relations, thinks the gimmick is poor social media marketing, and says, “We’re deeming this strategy a ‘virtual bribe.’” San Francisco Chronicle restaurant reviewer Michael Bauer agrees, saying, “The idea makes me uneasy.” But Mel’s general manager, Jay Barnhisel, doesn’t see it that way, and argues that the deal can be compared to offering a discount for customers who fill out comment cards. Barnhisel added that though Mel’s has been running the promotion for about a month, only one or two customers per week have been taking the restaurant up on their discount. “I honestly never look at Yelp,” he says.