Restaurateurs feel helpless against diners’ sour online reviews

On the Internet, everybody’s a critic.

But some critics are making a name for themselves – even if it’s a fake one – offering readers personal assessments of the dining experience. The reviews may be perfectly positive or nasty and negative, but either way, these citizen critics have put the restaurant industry on high alert.

Restaurant owners have always known that word-of-mouth or a negative review from a professional critic could make or break their business. Now, online sites including Urbanspoon, and Open Table allow anyone with a smartphone to judge a restaurant based on the first glass of water and fire off that opinion to thousands of readers, right from the table.

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