Politics In the Pizza Shop

The bear hug that's thrown Yelp into chaos: Pizza owner's Obama lift starts a restaurant review war

The bear hug that's thrown Yelp into chaos: Pizza owner's Obama lift starts a restaurant review war

Scott Van Duzer, owner of Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Italian Restaurant, found himself "caught up in the moment" when President Barack Obama stepped into his Fort Pierce, Fla., shop with little warning on Sunday.

Obama had come to recognize Van Duzer — a card-carrying Republican but vocal Obama supporter — for his charity work during a campaign stop. After a brief and chummy introduction, the pizza purveyor enveloped the president in a huge bear hug and lifted him off the ground, thereby exposing his restaurant to the wrath of famously opinionated Yelpers.

 The result? What Bloomberg Businessweek calls "the least helpful Yelp profile in history."   

In the aftermath of the contentious embrace, a deluge of partisan-oriented, one-star reviews flooded the restaurant Yelp page. Obama's camp, in turn, counteracted with accolades that had naught to do with the variety of toppings nor the char of the crust.

Before the event, Big Apple Pizza had all of two five-star reviews: "One of the best places to eat in the area!" wrote Maria H. "Nice variety of food for lunch or dinner. Love the Pizza, wings, subs and the best strombolie [sic] in town," stated Bob O.

But by Tuesday afternoon, the total had reached nearly 3,000 — far surpassing, for reference, the 2,300-some odd ratings that the famous Lombardi's Pizza in Manhattan's Little Italy has accrued since 2005 — with 210 more reviews removed for violating the website's content guidelines or terms of service.

The result? What Bloomberg Businessweek calls "the least helpful Yelp profile in history."