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November 2013

November 25, 2013

Don’t be left standing: Reserve a seat at even more local spots through Yelp and SeatMe

Posted by Alex Kvamme

You may recall that SeatMe joined the Yelp family back in July and now we’re excited to introduce the ability to book SeatMe reservations directly from a restaurant or nightlife venue’s Yelp listing! The feature is available online and on iOS and Android.

Over 117 million average monthly unique visitors (as of Q3 2013) are turning to Yelp to help them decide where to go to spend their hard earned dough and the SeatMe reservation feature is yet another way to help consumers seamlessly close that loop between discovering a great local business and experiencing the best that business has to offer.

Since waiting in line isn’t your favorite thing to do (just guessing, but pretty sure I’m right), whip out Yelp and nab a reso before you head out. Now instead of just drooling over the review highlights for Oakland, CA hot spot Hopscotch (duck fat chips and sweet potato gnocchi?!) you can take your fantasizing to the next level and snag a reservation on the spot.

Photo credit: Chival N.

Not in the mood for food? That’s OK - 20% of SeatMe venues are bars and lounges so you can reserve a seat at that quaint little mixology bar down the street, too. For San Franciscans, a craft cocktail at the speakeasy-esque Local Edition is just a couple clicks away.

Photo credit: Justin C.

Restaurants and bars love SeatMe because of their flat fee structure and no “per diner” fees. If you own or manage a restaurant, visit seatme.com/features to learn more.

November 20, 2013

Battle of the Brunches - Yelp Edition

What’s not to love about weekends? Time to catch up on sleep, maybe watch some sports and, of course, eat a tasty brunch (or two). We already know that Yelpers are turning to the site to plan where they’re going to go to eat that magical middle meal, but we wanted to know more. Digging through millions of the rich, local reviews users have contributed to Yelp, we learned a thing or two about the nation’s brunch preferences - everything from drinks of choice to the time Yelpers begin browsing for the perfect brunch spot. So while you start daydreaming about where you want to grab brunch this weekend, we’ll share some fun, brunch-themed findings!

Who’s known for their mimosas?

Because we all know brunch isn’t complete without somethin’ delicious to wash it down with, we wanted to know which restaurants have the most mentions of ‘mimosas’ within their reviews. If you’re a big fan of a little fizz in your OJ, be sure to bookmark these spots on Yelp.

  1. Radish - San Francisco, CA
  2. The Buff Restaurant - Boulder, CO
  3. Taverna - Dallas, TX*
  4. Broadway Cellars - Chicago, IL
  5. Crêpe Expectations - Las Vegas, NV

The battle begins - Bloody Marys vs. Mimosas

Do you prefer the spiciness of Bloody Marys over Mimosas? Welp -- you and Wisconsin are in the same boat. Texans, however, strongly disagree. The southern state sings Mimosas’ praises all brunch long.

Does your state prefer Pancakes or Waffles?

Now on to the main course! From Eggs Benedict to French toast, the options are endless. What about pancakes vs. waffles? Vermont takes the (pan)cake with the biggest preference for flapjacks. In fact, the only state that opts for waffles over pancakes is Nevada.

Early to bed, early to brunch

When it comes to brunch timing, New Yorkers tend to hit the snooze button a few more times than San Franciscans. SF starts hunting for brunch on Yelp around 10:30 am, while NYC brunchers begin searching at an average time of 11:00 am.

Brunchtown, USA

So, where are these Yelpin’ brunchers headed? We’ve ranked the top five cities for brunch based on total number of highly-rated brunch spots, the proportion of total restaurants that serve brunch and percentage of brunch restaurants that are rated 4 stars or higher.

  1. Chicago
  2. Minneapolis / St. Paul
  3. Denver
  4. Portland
  5. San Francisco

Whatever it is that makes your brunch experience epic, Yelp can help you pinpoint exactly what you’re in the mood for. Stomach starting to growl? Download the Yelp app to take advantage of search tools and shortcuts for brunch hunting on the go. If you don’t know where to start, try these tips to help streamline your search:

  • Search keywords like brunch, pancakes, Eggs Benedict or Mimosas to find the best of the best in your neighborhood
  • Filter your search results by category - are you looking for a spicy Mexican brunch or the more traditional American fare?
  • Brunchin' on a budget? Sort your search results by those offering Yelp Deals!
  • For popular spots, reserve a table right from the Yelp business listing.

Happy brunch hunting, Yelpers!


*Note that Taverna has moved since we pulled this data; their new location can be found here.

November 14, 2013

New Yelp SF Headquarters Open for Business

Yelpers love San Francisco. Our company started in SF and our headquarters have been within the radius of the same few city blocks ever since. We recently took up residence in a brand new space (well, brand new to *us* - it’s a historic San Francisco building), and we couldn’t be more excited.

Welcome to Yelp Lobby

Why the big move? Well, Yelp is in that awkward teenager growth-spurt phase where our old space was getting to be a tight squeeze and we needed more room…and a bike lobby with showers, increased video conferencing capability, an in-house barista...you get the idea.

To break in the new digs, we had a few very special guests join us for a building tour and hot chocolates. US House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee applauded Yelp’s growth and benefit to local communities and congratulated us on the move and our almost 10-year history in San Francisco. Mayor Lee even declared it Yelp Day here in SF! Watch the whole show below, or on the Yelp YouTube channel.

A lot of thought went into choosing our new home. Not only did we need more room, but we wanted a location that would be good for commuters, have easy access to lots of local businesses and restaurants and pay tribute to the rich history of our hometown. Check out some pics to see how Yelp’s Head of Facilities, John Lieu, worked with design firm O+A to introduce modern renovations while maintaining our building’s historic character.

November 13, 2013

How Yelp Helps You Find the Right Local Business

Millions of people use Yelp everyday to find a great local business. Most probably don’t give a second thought to how the reviews they read tend to predict what their offline experience will be like. They just know it works. Which is great, because that’s what we strive for.

But some might wonder -- how does it work? Well, we made this cool video to explain it.

For starters, imagine you were trying to find a great new restaurant in town way back before Yelp existed. You’d probably try to get as many word-of-mouth recommendations as possible. Then you’d sift through them, deciding how to value each one. You would probably place more weight on recommendations from people in the know who have tried every place in town, and from people whose tastes you share, than on recommendations from folks who rarely go out to eat, who seem like they might be too close to the owner to be unbiased, or who you’ve just met and don’t know much about.

In a nutshell, that’s how Yelp works. Every day our automated software goes through the more than 47 million reviews that have been submitted to Yelp to select the most useful and reliable ones to help you find the business that’s right for you. Unlike many other sites, our stance is quality over quantity when it comes to reviews. As a result, we only recommend about three-quarters of the reviews we get. More often than not, these reviews come from active members of the Yelp community, and from those we’ve come to know and trust.

Reviews that are not recommended can still be seen via a link on the bottom of each business's profile page, but they don't factor into the business' overall star rating or review count.

And what about those other reviews? Why would some not be recommended? In order to keep our content helpful and reliable, we try not to highlight reviews written by users we don't know much about, or reviews that may be biased because they were solicited from family, friends, or favored customers. We also try to filter out reviews that may have been written or purchased by business owners to help themselves or hurt a competitor. And we try to avoid unhelpful rants and raves, as well.

Our recommendation software is running constantly and making adjustments as it learns more information about reviews and reviewers. So, the reviews recommended for each business do change over time.

It’s important to note that we treat advertisers and non-advertisers exactly the same: no one gets preferential treatment.  You'll find plenty of Yelp advertisers with negative reviews, and plenty of non-advertisers with stellar ratings. The recommendation software is entirely automated so that it can apply the same objective standards to every business and every review without being overridden by someone’s personal preferences.

Yelp’s approach of recommending only the most useful and reliable reviews has served consumers pretty well to this point, since over 100 million of them visit our site each month.

So, for those people who occasionally wonder just how Yelp seems to give them the info they need, we’ve put a reminder at the top of each business listing that the reviews displayed are the ones we recommend, the ones that make Yelp your trusted local companion.

November 06, 2013

Yelp Foundation Awards $100,000 Grants to San Francisco Non-Profits

A lot of people already know that Yelp has a huge impact on consumers and local businesses around the world. An average of 117 million unique visitors use the site every month in 23 different countries. Fewer people know that the non-profit Yelp Foundation was created in 2011 to find new ways of helping consumers and local businesses. The Foundation’s mission is to support community literacy and small business growth by making grants to local non-profits which are actively engaged in those initiatives.    

As a longtime Yelp employee and founding member of the Board of Directors of the newly created Yelp Foundation, I was excited to see what kind of an impact we could have on local communities.

But where to start? The Foundation decided the best way to make an informed decision was to poll the most in-the-know locals around - Yelp employees! Several champions came forward to produce educational videos on each nominated organization. From there, the options were narrowed down until the Foundation was able to confidently select the winning organizations.

In its first year of existence, the Yelp Foundation matched Yelp employee donations to give a combined total of more than $100,000 to charity. This year the bar has definitely been raised, with grants of $100,000 each going to three local San Francisco-based non-profits.

And the winners are (drumroll please)...


This non-profit organization’s mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.

826 Valencia

826 Valencia is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages six to eighteen with their creative and expository writing skills and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Their services center around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen when trained tutors work one-on-one with students and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. They offer a range of programs, all free of charge, for students, classrooms, and schools in the Bay Area.

Women's Initiative 

Since 1988, Women's Initiative has been assisting high-potential low-income women who dream of business ownership. Through an intensive 20 session program - in English or Spanish - women are enabled to start, or expand their business.

In addition to the three local non-profits who received grants, a fourth $100,000 grant was awarded to a group of organizations that support consumer free speech and legislative efforts to protect it from meritless lawsuits meant to intimidate and silence discourse.

We hope these grants will enable each of these organizations to continue the good work they’re already doing and provide an opportunity to impact the lives of even more community members, in San Francisco and around the world.