How many Reviews does a Top 10 Restaurant need?

Buffalo, NY has a population of 276, 059. Dallas Texas has 1,232,940 folks and San Francisco has 744,041 people. Yet the number of reviews bears no correlation to their populations in the Google Local 10-Pack results:

Rank Buffalo Rest. Web Site Rev.Totals Buff. Dallas Rest. Web Site Review Totals Dallas S.F. Rest. Web Site Review Totals S.F.
1 Anchor Bar Y 60 Bob’s Steak & Chop House Y 49 Zuni Cafe Y 154
2 Chef’s Restaurant Y 27 Lola the Restaurant Y 18 First Crush Restaurant & Bar Y 145
3 Hutch’s Y 14 Stephan Pyles Y 40 House of Prime Rib Y 142
4 Pearl Street Grill & Brewery Y 13 Old Warsaw Restaurant Y 26 E & O Trading Co Y 28
5 La Nova Pizzeria: Buffalo Location Y 33 Abacus Restaurant Y 43 Restaurant Gary Danko Y 285
6 Duff’s N 35 Capital Grille Y 30 Slanted Door Y 233
7 Pano’s Restaurant Y 24 Campisi’s Restaurant Y 31 Farallon Y 123
8 Mother’s Restaurant N 23 Javier’s Catering Services Y 20 Michael Mina Restaurant Y 126
9 EB Green’s Steakhouse Y 10 Steel Restaurant & Lounge Y 23 Delfina Restaurant Y 138
10 Olivers restaurant Y 13 Nick & Sam’s Catering Division Y 25 Cheesecake Factory Y 84
    Total 252   Total 305   Total 1458

It makes sense that San Francisco has such a large number of reviews; the city has a technically savvy population, has a large amount of tourism and is the home of Yelp. But why would there be such a similar number of reviews in Buffalo, a declining NE city of a quarter million, and Dallas, a much larger and still growing area? Are Texans slower on the uptake?

Some items of note:

•The top review getters in Dallas or Buffalo are in the 50 range vs. SF’s 150

•Only 2 of these 30 restaurants do not yet have websites noted in Google Maps•In Dallas the #1 sites had 2x’s the number of review of the 10th ranked site

•The Anchor Bar has 4x’s the number of reviews of the 10th site.

•Note that while generally the more the reviews the higher the rank that is not always the case. E & O Trading Co in S.F. is a case in point as is Restaurant Gary Danko.

•Several listings appear to have obviously attempted to modify their business name to influence ranking ( La Nova Pizzeria: Buffalo Location, Restaurant Gary Danko).

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
How many Reviews does a Top 10 Restaurant need? by

6 thoughts on “How many Reviews does a Top 10 Restaurant need?”

  1. Yes– DFW is, in general, slower on the uptake on most digital local services, whether it’s Google, Yelp, Eventful, Upcoming, you name it.

    Middle America ain’t the coasts. Been saying it for years…

  2. Hi Mike

    I have trouble thinking of Buffalo as part of the vanguard. The city is more like Cleveland or Detroit than Boston or NY. Although it must be different than Dallas. 🙂


  3. Mike,
    I really love these stats-oriented posts.

    I think you’ve opened a question here that deserves consideration, and I see that question as revolving around the psychology of why people leave reviews.

    I’m not sure it’s correct to assume Texans are behind the times technologically. After all, every single one of the Dallas restaurants you listed has a website, whereas 2 of the Buffalo ones didn’t.

    Could it be that NY and CA folks are more fixated with having one’s 15 minutes of fame, having one’s say, putting one’s self forward than Texans are? Could it be that you and I hail from states that are simply more outspoken, in general?

    I certainly don’t know but it’s interesting to think about.

    Great post, Mike!

  4. Miriam

    Are you saying that you and I are outspoken? 🙂

    I am curious about the difference. I suppose someone should compare cities of roughly equal size across several states and see what the results are. Wonder how you would account for greater metro area size….Buffalo does have some great restaurants for a city its size.

    It could be a result of regional differences, could be economic, could be cultural, could be tourism related or it could be Google’s bias in choice of review sites.

    This post came out of the review of review sites that I did on Buffalo. Tomorrow I will update that with the review sites from Dallas….interesting comparison there as well.


  5. Hi, I liked this post. What it shows for me is that we massively overestimate the willingness of people to get involved in user-generated content.

    The problem is that most websites are being developed in SF and the bay area, where people think that because they and their friends are all into it, everyone else must be into it as well. And they create all these business models based around it. Then, when they fail to materialise, they scratch their heads and wonder what happened.

    Well, the answer right here in this post!

  6. Hi David

    That’s a good theory…..if we extrapolate that and apply to Washington…maybe all they see are folks like themselves and that leads to them assuming that the whole world is that way and voila: the War on Terror! 🙂


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