They say all publicity is good publicity.

But maybe not when it involves public officials dining in groups at your restaurant after pleading with others to refrain from that sort of gathering during a pandemic.

Yelp has posted an “Unusual Activity Alert” on the French Laundry’s review page and temporarily halted the posting of comments about the restaurant.

The action comes after the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday that San Francisco Mayor London Breed joined seven others at the restaurant for a birthday party Nov. 7. That’s a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s controversial dinner there with people from outside his household.

Representatives for both Newsom and Breed have noted that Napa County, where the French Laundry is located, was open for both indoor and outdoor dining at that time.

Yelp routinely monitors accounts for suspicious and malicious activity. The website didn’t specify the types of comments on the French Laundry page that warranted the action, posting only its policy on such matters:

“This business recently received increased public attention, which often means people come to this page to post their views on the news. While we don’t take a stand one way or the other when it comes to this incident, we’ve temporarily disabled the posting of content to this page as we work to investigate the content you see here reflects actual consumer experiences rather than the recent events.

“If you’re here to leave a review based on a first-hand experience with the business, please check back at a later date.”

Representatives for the French Laundry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Yelp added that it applies the same policy to all businesses, “regardless of the business and regardless of the topic at issue.”

In mid-November, the site temporarily disabled postings on the review page for Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia, the small business that hosted an outdoor press conference held by President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

While the controversial dinners at the French Laundry may have affected public comments about Thomas Keller’s three-Michelin-starred flagship, where tasting menus start at $350 per person, business on the outdoor courtyard doesn’t appear to have suffered.

A check Wednesday of the online reservation system showed that tables for two or three patrons are sold out for the entire month of December. Tables for four are mainly sold out, with waiting lists started. Tables remain available for five to seven guests.


By Richard Moran

Richard Moran loves to write about sports with the Golden State Online. Before that, he worked as a senior writer at ESPN. Richard grew up in San Diego and graduated from the University of San Diego in 2004, after which he worked as an editor for five years.

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