OBON Sushi + Bar + Ramen Taking Alternative Approach To Negative Yelp Reviews

Negative Yelp reviews are well known in the restaurant business. But Tucson’s newest downtown eatery is trying a different approach to confront some of the more extreme feedback.

Since opening their doors August 13, OBON Sushi + Bar + Ramen have had a large and mostly positive welcoming from the downtown community. But after a number of unflattering reviews, owner Brandon Katz decided to have some fun by displaying segments of the reviews on the restaurant’s marquee.

“It started out as a joke one day between me and my staff,” said Obon Owner Brandon Katz.” But I made the decision to keep it up.”

“Caitlyn X,” a regular Yelp contributor whose negative comment was the first to be featured on the marquee didn’t hold back when recounting Obon’s ramen:

“Overpriced Japanese food at its finest. Their ‘authentic’ ramen was absolutely disgusting. It had a gross fishy, rancid odor.”

“just another overpriced downtown bar for guys to impress their Tinder date with how much money they can put on daddy’s credit card.”

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Obon manager Scott K responded to the Yelp review:

“We will add that feedback is always welcome, but a creative writing class or a thesaurus would help the validity of all your horribly negative Yelp reviews moving forward. Also, why all the screaming?”

Caitlyn X’s final response:

“The owner stinks as much as his repulsive ramen.”

Obon Marquee (Photo Credit: Obon Sushi Bar and Ramen)

Obon Marquee (Photo Credit: Obon Sushi Bar and Ramen)

Yelper James Ese D also left a negative review:

“Nasty salty weirdo soup flavor and way too loud can’t even hear my self think”

Again, Obon manager Scott K responded:

“We can’t quite pin down the ‘nasty weirdo soup flavor’ you speak of, but we will definitely keep looking.”

Although Katz takes the reviews seriously, he can’t help but react to the negativity with humor.

Katz wants people to understand that there is a lot of heart and soul that goes into running a business. Constructive criticism is always encouraged, but blatant harassment is not. Katz hopes that going forward the public will aim to provide insightful reviews helping to improve restaurant and business establishments.

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Obon’s tactics bring into question whether a restaurant’s assertions will create an open space for productive feedback or bring detriment to business.

Not all Yelp reviews have been negative, however.

Yelper Caleb B said:

 “I was extremely blown away and impressed by the food, from sushi to ramen to signature mixed drinks, so many delicious flavors.”

And, from Yelper Steven S:

“I have been twice in less than two weeks with plans to go back this week. The ramen is on point.”

“We are going to continue to do what we do best,” explained Katz.

Just expect a dash of added humor along the way.

Yelp Marquee (Credit: Obon)

Yelp Marquee (Credit: Obon)

Sarah Pelfini is Tucson Foodie's 2015 summer intern. She is currently studying journalism and Chinese at the University of Arizona.