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  • Panera responds to consumer health shift [View news story]
    I wish they would come up with a good gluten-free bread.
    May 5, 2015. 08:34 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Chipotle - This Overvalued Stock Will Continue To Come Down [View article]
    Chipotle has almost the only fast food that my daughter and I can eat, since we can't eat gluten or dairy. The last estimate I saw for the number of people now avoiding gluten, for whatever reason, is in the millions. For us, and I'm sure for thousands of other people, that's the only part of their "model" that is important. And I don't see anyone else replicating it. So I'm holding on to my stock; I've made a lot of money so far on it.
    Feb 4, 2015. 08:45 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Yelp Q3 2014 Review: Operating Metrics Not Holding Up [View article]
    I'm not aware of any other rating site that hides so many reviews. Once in awhile Amazon won't allow a review, but it's quite rare. Most sites run them all and let the reader decide which ones make sense. For example, look up review sites for cruise ships.

    Yelp has the power to, effectively, put little companies out of business with their smirky "Yelpie" reviewers. Even if they are not now demanding advertising money to showcase good reviews, I won't use the site--or buy the stock--as long as they continue to hide reviews, and continue to throw parties to get more reviews out of their "Yelpies." From the Miami New Times in July: "No matter how you feel about Yelp, there is one indisputable fact: They throw some kick ass parties. Locals got a taste of the elaborate Yelp bashes this weekend with the Yelpies. Held at the Coral Gables Art Museum, the Yelpies celebrated the company's ten-year anniversary with tons of gratis food, drinks, art, music, and free take-home swag."
    Oct 24, 2014. 08:23 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Yelp Q3 2014 Review: Operating Metrics Not Holding Up [View article]
    Two reasons I think l think less people are using Yelp: For my husband and me, their hiding of most of the positive reviews and showcasing the negative ones of an excellent local restaurant--the owner told us they kept calling him and asking him to advertise and he refused--have poisoned the well for us. Now we don't believe any of their reviews.

    The other reason is that by asking the reader to check if a review is "useful" "funny" or "cool" elicits a lot of fairly smart-ass kind of comments in the reviews. While this may appeal to a young crowd, the people with money to eat out are older, and not as charmed by this kind of smart-alec tone in many of the reviews.
    Oct 23, 2014. 08:50 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Confidence in Chipotle in front of earnings [View news story]
    Good point. I think we can also trust that Chipotle won't add MSG, a major reason I stay clear of Chinese restaurants.
    Oct 20, 2014. 03:59 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Will Yelp Ever Justify Its Ridiculous Valuation? [View article]
    Utilities get their revenue from their users i.e. people pay to use phone, electricity, water, etc. Yelp's users do not provide revenue; business ads do that. And as long as there is the perception in the small business community that the ratings that are "recommended" depend upon the ad money businesses give to Yelp, business owners will look at Yelp as a shakedown operation.

    And I'm not even sure that Yelp will be able to keep its users. All it took for me to stop using Yelp was one review I wrote for an excellent restaurant, that had only negative reviews "recommended" but lots of positive ones hidden, available only if you noticed a tiny, light gray link at the bottom of the page. My review was hidden; I got curious and found the gray link and all the positive reviews, including mine.

    Mine was an honest review. Some of the negative recommended ones were incredibly picky and stupid, with comments like the wait staff was too attentive. I'll never trust Yelp again.
    May 26, 2014. 09:43 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Will Yelp Ever Justify Its Ridiculous Valuation? [View article]
    It just seems to me that the whole business model of YELP is flawed. Their income stream is from businesses who advertise with them. Yet their method of operating (burying some reviews and highlighting others) is guaranteed to make many businesses furious with them since--at least in a business owner's mind--the way their reviews are presented is dependent upon them buying advertising. To many business owners, YELP is nothing but a shakedown operation.

    Add to this their stable of reviewers, none of whom are paid professionals. YELP rewards frequent reviewers with parties, from what I understand. Who sits down and writes many reviews to go to a party? Not many stable, employed, mature adults, I would guess. Plus there is a Yelpie tone to many of these reviews (picking at small flaws, being sarcastic etc.) that is unpleasant and must put many business owners through the roof. I'm not a business owner myself, but I know at least one who would burn in hell before giving a dime of advertising money to YELP.

    My advice to YELP: run all the reviews you get in the order received, don't reward frequent reviewers, don't ask readers to rate how "funny" or "cool" reviews are, and find another income stream.
    May 23, 2014. 09:22 AM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Weighing The Pros And Cons Of Chipotle Mexican Grill [View article]
    Chipotle is one of the very few--maybe the only--fast/casual restaurant where you can eat if a member of your group or family is sensitive to gluten and/or dairy. I think with the growing awareness and diagnosis of this condition, this factor is more important than the GMO issue. In our family, it is the only fast food we can all eat together. Plus we think the food is delicious.
    Apr 27, 2014. 08:33 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill Is Going Fully Organic This Year [View article]
    The long lines is an interesting issue. Since it's essentially a cafeteria set-up, it would be hard to have more than one line. And yes, that line often gets long. The workers try as hard as they can to move it quickly--and usually it does move quickly--but occasionally you get behind someone bringing lunch for his whole office. That happened to me the other day and we were all held up while the cashier and her helpers (everyone was trying to help) was adding chips and drinks and how many containers of salsa etc. plus packing the whole thing up. I think it is an issue and I'll be interested to see if Chipotle thinks of a way to solve it.

    On the plus side, no GMO ingredients will make the restaurant even more attractive. I'm long on CMG.
    Feb 21, 2014. 09:16 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Chipotle And Buffalo Wild Wings Heat Up The Pizza Wars With Craft Pizzas [View article]
    Thanks for the tip on PZZI. I haven't had a chance to visit one of their restaurants, but, unfortunately, their financials do not look good. But I'll keep an eye on it.

    For me, a huge benefit to CMG is their ingredients. I react to MSG and I am so looking forward to an Asian restaurant where I don't have to worry about it. And I have so many friends who can't/won't eat gluten or dairy and CMG makes it so easy to avoid these ingredients. I originally bought CMG years ago simply because their financials looked so good--I had never even seen a restaurant. But once I started eating in them, I got hooked on that level as well.
    Jan 17, 2014. 08:39 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Yelp's Management Presents at Cantor Fitzgerald 2013 Internet Conference (Transcript) [View article]
    And I really think you need to at least recognize the elephant in the room with this stock, i.e. the 700 complaints to the FTC alleging that Yelp is really running a shake-down operation. The charge is that Yelp hides the good reviews of stores who refuse to advertise with them, and hides the bad reviews of stores who do advertise with them. This may only be happening in certain areas with certain managers, but for me, anyway, all of these charges have really poisoned the well.
    Dec 11, 2013. 02:15 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Yelp Is Madly Overvalued Even After The Correction [View article]
    Yelp's gets its revenue from advertising, and more and more companies are complaining that--because Yelp filters reviews, sometimes hiding most of the positive ones--it is really a shake down outfit.
    Dec 6, 2013. 05:54 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Yelp tumbles, Topeka worried about competition from Facebook [View news story]
    Worries that Yelp is shaking down businesses is going to continue to erode support. How many lawsuits are they fighting now?
    Nov 25, 2013. 08:17 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • This Is How Yelp's CEO Responded To Criticisms [View article]
    The wonder of the 3.5 score for Yelp is that they found enough positive reviews to get it that high. Scroll to the bottom of the review page and look for the light gray link to "filtered" reviews. Over half were filtered out, and if you can get through the difficult security screen, you'll see that almost all of the ones filtered out were one star reviews.

    There are literally thousands of people furious with Yelp, claiming that they shake businesses down for advertising money. It will be interesting to see how this affects the stock price.
    Nov 12, 2013. 09:09 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Chipotle: Still Standing Strong [View article]
    Chipotle is also one of the few (maybe the only) fast food that is msg-free.
    Nov 12, 2013. 06:47 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment