I started posting reviews on Yelp in early 2014. Since then, I've steadily contributed more to the community, learned how to distinguish what reviewers I can trust and have started commenting in the Yelp talk threads. I've even been named a Yelp elite for both 2014 and 2015. (For whatever that's worth - I suppose it means you can trust what I have to say.)
Yet at the same time, I wondered who the people were behind the avatars. What were their stories? Why did they contribute to Yelp? Why should I trust them? Were they real?
In the meantime, a real-life friend, K, invited me to a Yelp event. I couldn't go that evening, but it made me think that it was perhaps something I needed to try in the future. Plus, I figured, it might help me better understand the Yelp community.
That's how I found myself at a Yelp event to review a restaurant's soft opening. I had no idea what to expect - neither did Kelly - and was completely caught off guard by the crowd.
Dinner itself was a lot of fun. We watched a pizza master at work.
Tried fancy drinks.
Ate way too much food - including pizza...
And eggplant parmigiana...
And chicken parmigiana....
We also heard from the owner, Vito - a true delight.
Plus ate way too many desserts. They were all super yummy.
And those Yelpers? They were loud, but loud because they were chatting. They were fun. They were opinionated - but so am I.
It wasn't exactly the date night that we thought we would experience, but it was just fine. My friend K was right, Yelp can be more than just sharing opinions and being snarky.
Community, it turns out, can be found in the oddest places.