SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The owners of South Restaurant in downtown Sacramento are questioning the practices of Yelp after several racist reviews were posted about their restaurant. The owners say it took Yelp too long to take action, and now they must stand up for what’s right.
South is a popular Gulf-area, Southern-style restaurant best known for its fried chicken.
Owners N’Gina and Ian Kavookjian are an interracial husband and wife team. They say while they normally don’t pay much attention to Yelp reviews– they just couldn’t keep silent about what they were seeing.
“The first review we got, someone referred to me as Aunt Jemima, and said the restaurant was too clean to being black-owned,” said N’Gina.
Those reviews were posted on Yelp last year, but this isn’t the first time South Restaurant has had to deal with reviews of this nature.
In the most recent post, N’Gina said “she referred to me as being a field “N” word, and said my husband was a white slave owner.”
She says she immediately flagged the post and contacted Yelp numerous times to have it removed.
“They had sent me an email that they had taken it down, but when I went into Yelp, it was still up, and days later, it was still up,” she said.
“The response I’ve gotten from Yelp is we’re working on it, you can pay to have it taken down.”
Yelp did eventually remove the review, but it took about a week
“Depending on when they heard about it, I think they should have taken a stronger stance,” said customer Kyle Durno.
CBS13 contacted Yelp about this story and about their policy. A Yelp spokesperson released the following statement:
“Business owners and Yelp users have the ability to flag a review if they believe it violates Yelp’s Terms of Service. All flagged reviews are assessed by our User Operations team and it takes about 3-5 business days for flagged reviews to be processed. Reviews that are found to be in violation of our terms of service (which include hate speech, conflicts of interest, and reviews not based on a first-hand experience) are completely removed from the site and no longer visible. Users also have the ability to remove a review they’ve posted, if they choose.”
The owners say the posts haven’t hurt business. And they thank all the customers and neighboring businesses who flagged the post and made calls to Yelp to take it down.
“I’m glad it was taken down, I’m happy that she’s speaking out, we all support her,” said customer Jaime Urquizo.