middle brow \ citizen how /

our cordless telephone has been nothing but a hassle. not cuz it lacks a cord and we can't ever find it. that's no problem at all. it's a perfectly worthy sacrifice to make for the convenience of being able to wander the joint with a phone on our ear when we have to. we love our brewpub. and we love the way it feels home-y to people. and that's likely cuz it's more our home than our home is. polly and i are there constantly. paying personal bills. trying on our new shoes or flightsuits after the amazon guy leaves. kicking around a soccer ball in the lot. etc. bungalow is our bungalow! and so when we're trying to fix a foam issue on tap 4 with a cordless phone tight 'twixt our shoulder and our ear, talking to a woman about how we don't take reservations and we can't make exceptions for her party of 4 but we promise we'll make her comfortable and happy if there's a short wait, we're usually all on-cloudy and happy.

but then there's the spam shit-calls. and i guess our place is a little like your 80s home was when those came in, too. at least, if your ma did the old "we don't want any" and abruptly hung up on courtesy callers. ... you'd never believe how intense and manipulative the sales calls are for new businesses. a ComEd scammer calls and freaks out our host with "we're gonna shut off your power in 15 minutes if you don't pay us $900", and he scrambles to find polly who then asks me why the hell i didn't pay our power bill. but it's all fraud! we paid! this guy ain't part of ComEd.

or else, the chicago bears and bulls and hawks and white sox and cubs all want to sell us space in their catalog this upcoming season. and the dude asks for "his old friend pete. who's expecting my call." and of course i don't know him and had to look up the main chicago sports teams just a second ago to make sure i listed them all. so we have no interest in that. 

and the private equity guy who wants to give us money! whoa! what honor!

but the most frustrating of all is the sexist-as-fuck yelp fraudster. this guy has called us time after time after time after time. always ruining those cute 90s moments we try to have with the cordless phone. and they want our money. they want it mainly to prevent bad yelp reviews. and we learned from harrison ford never to negotiate with terrorists. so we tell them to fuck off. and a couple days later it happens again. and so on and so on.

and one day a couple weeks back, this yelp affiliate called. and polly answered. and he asked to speak to the owner. and she told him she was the owner. and he explained that he had tried to get through to the owner several times and he hadn't had any luck. and that he had special power to stop a company called HD Scores from posting our negative health department report on yelp. if we paid him a sum of money. and she told him we weren't interested. and he pressed on, saying that it was about the go live. and she pushed back, saying that we weren't interested. and hung up the phone.

he immediately called back. and polly answered. and he said "sorry we were just accidentally disconnected. is the owner available?" and she said "i am the owner, and we weren't accidentally disconnected." and he then pressed again, about how this bad review was about to go live. and she said "no thanks dude". and he said "ma'am, please put the owner on the phone." and this infuriated her. this wimp of a man. whose work is ethically bankrupt. simply could not believe that someone with polly's.... pitch? was the owner of our business. let's just say it: he didn't think a woman could possibly own our business. any business? who knows. he's clearly a misogynistic fuckface, so probably. ... in any event, she hung up the phone. and he called back. and i answered this time. and he played the "accidentally disconnected" game. and i said "no no. it wasn't an accident. she hung up on you. and i don't know why you're having such a hard time understanding that she's our owner. and if you call again i'm gonna reach through this phone line and tickle a little bit under your chin before i maul your whingy face with my teeth." because we want it to feel like home in the 90s here at bungalow!!! and because i have less class and patience than polly. (also i was way less measured and way more stuttery-angry than that.) just like your dad and mom.

anyway, a couple days later bryan opened his yelp app (which, why does bryan have the yelp app? and, even more importantly, why did bryan open his yelp app?). and what he found *shocked* him when he searched for bungalow by middle brow: a bad *Health Score Alert*, right there at the top of our yelp page. due to "11 violations". then, very oddly, some grey preview text. reading: insects, rodents and animals not present. food and non-food contact services cleanable, properly designed, constructed and used..." and on and on. this *Health Score Alert*, it tells us, is "Powered by HDScores". the same misogynist company that called us incessantly, demanding money lest they publish a bad health score (with the oddly harmless verbiage under it). well: they followed through on their threat. ...

anyway, we opened the health score. and found 12 violations actually listed. because why would a computer know how to count? and those "violations" were *actually* just 4 of the exact same violations listed 3 times each. now... let me explain our violations: when the health department comes for an inspection, they give you a list of your violations, which fall into three categories—normal, bad and very bad. we had four violations before we opened, which showed up on each of our three license applications (liquor, food and packaged goods). without further ado, the four... the top of our garage door showed some light pouring through: first violation. our floor sink seams weren't caulked to the floor: second violation. the wood fence around our tank farm didn't have a sufficient number of coats of paint on it: third violation. and we had no sneeze-guard between customers and our open pizza kitchen: fourth, and most serious, violation. as this last one was the only one that prevented us from opening, we addressed it right away. and built our lovely sneeze-guard. our health inspector passed us two days later and we opened for biz several weeks thereafter. we've since fixed all the other violations. and are healthy as could be! and our food is as pretty from a bacterial perspective as it is on your plate! we promise! come eat it and you'll see that you don't get sick! (best review yet.)

so all of this is to say: hdscores and yelp have tried to take advantage of us. the only way for us to remove the negative health score is to pay yelp for a formal business account, and to formally contest the score. that's also true of any other negative reviews, by the way: a business can't respond to a totally ridiculous, negative review without paying yelp. we didn't even start a yelp page! it was started for us by yelp. and we naturally got (a very small number of) negative reviews. and then yelp came calling. demanding money to fight those reviews. 

great business model, san francisco.

now look: we've met some very cool, genuine yelpers. and we particularly love the guy who says "They really deserve their Michelin Stars!!!!!!" and "Middle Brow Bungalow is the best restaurant in my life." but the people running and affiliated with this platform are pure evil. like, donald trump evil. and consider also that humans are boundedly rational. and their capacity for honest reviews is very limited. take anchoring: people rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered. like, if they see a bunch of 5-star reviews, they're more likely to give a 4- to 5-star review. if they see a bunch of 1-star reviews, they'll give the same. this phenomenon alone makes yelp pretty well useless. to say nothing of all the dishonesty and misogyny flying around.

so do your part: stop referencing yelp. ever. use your local weekly mag to find new restaurants.