How Low Can an Urbanspoon Rating Go?

There is a deli in Times Square at Broadway and 47th that has one of the lowest ratings by Urbanspoon users that I’ve ever seen. The 71 people who’ve taken the time to rate the place on Urbanspoon have liked it only 49% of the time:

Roxy Delicatessen in Times Square on Urbanspoon

That is a remarkable achievement. As a fairly active Urbanspoon user I have rated 816 restaurants that I’ve eaten at over the past few years, and can say from experience that it appears to be downright difficult to get a rating that low. Why? Because most places will close before reaching such low ratings.

I’ve eaten at Roxy Delicatessen. In fact, I’ve eaten there twice, which I think gives me some insight into why the place is rated so poorly: Even for Time Square, it’s overpriced. We’re talking $20-$30 for downright average burgers and sandwiches. Some friends of mine spent $58 on breakfast for two there earlier this month. It’s location gets people in the door, and their regret motivates them to visit Urbanspoon to “spoon down” the place.

They have the benefit of being able to survive, conceivably forever, without ever serving the same customers twice. They don’t need to be great. They don’t even need to be good, since so many people walk past their door daily.

Which brings me to this:

Baja Sol Columbus, OH Rating on Urbanspoon

Tony Sutton’s Columbus, Ohio Baja Sol location blew right past Roxy’s Delicatessen on a race to the bottom of Urbanspoon’s ratings. More than seven out of ten Urbanspoon users who dined at that Baja Sol location disliked the place enough to spoon it down.

Here is an example of a generous negative review from someone named Morgan:

I wanted to like it, honestly! The salsa bar was nice and our service was average. I got a burrito that could have fed 2 people, easily. That may sound like a pro but their just wasn’t any flavor! I could have used half the size and double the flavors! My bf was also not impressed. We got margaritas one frozen and one on the rocks, both were too sweet and tasted like they had powdered sugar in them, not good at all! I would say give it a try… But don’t have too high of hopes.

It sounds like she went in with an open mind to try a new place in town and walked away disappointed with everything she ate and drank. Yes she still says “give it a try”! That’s generous. What would it take for Morgan to say “stay away”?

By the way, this Baja Sol restaurant appears to have been a sit down with wait staff and a bar concept. It was in an old Don Pablo’s, so maybe people were going in with Don Pablo’s standards? (I’m not sure that those are particularly high standards.)

My theory here is that Baja Sol talked a better game than it could walk. The restaurant clearly got people in the door (it has received a comparable number of ratings to Roxy). The parking lot had cars in it when Google’s StreetView car drove by:

Baja Sol Columbus, OH

That’s good talking. However, unlike Times Square, Columbus, Ohio mall parking lots can not deliver a never ending supply of one-time customers. If people don’t come back, you’ll eventually run out of customers. This Baja Sol location has closed.

By the way, if you prefer Yelp to Urbanspoon, the same venue pulled 2 out of 5 stars over there. This snippet of a review from Larissa B may have nailed the problem with surprising accuracy:

It’s as if Bob and June from the ‘burbs decided to open a Mexican restaurant and tried their best to design a menu and atmosphere that was vaguely Hispanic but appealed to boring white people who are afraid of spicy food.

Bob and June from the ‘burbs are actually Tony and Bridget from Inver Grove Heights.

6 thoughts on “How Low Can an Urbanspoon Rating Go?”

  1. @seth, that’s surprisingly low. But, with only 20 reviews so far, things can be pretty volatile. That must not be a popular venue with the Urbanspoon crowd.

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