Craft & Commerce Embraces Its Critics With Negative Yelp Reviews on Speaker

November 18, 2012

“If you’re not pissing someone off, you’re doing it wrong” -- this well known saying holds tried and true for one of San Diego’s most progressive dining destinations, Craft & Commerce, who just this week launched a comedic new strategy to handle the unwarranted criticism generated from their hundreds of YELP reviews.  Featured in top outlets including GQ, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Imbibe and selected as one of Food & Wine's "Top 50 Bars in the Country" in 2011, the Craft & Commerce team mined through months worth of YELP comments to search out only the most unfavorable, ludicrous and low ranking reviews. The user-generated content was then converted into a series of over-the-top audio clips that run over the sound system in the restaurant restrooms for all patrons to hear.

From context to comedy, rejecting mass commercialization is at the core of Craft & Commerce’s philosophy, as owners Arsalun Tafazoli and Nathan Stanton implement their avant-garde ideology through their prohibitions. Their establishments refuse to offer ketchup, serve vodka, provide spoons at their Japanese inspired ramen bar, place TV’s in the restaurant, and say that the customer is always right. Getting the customer to react in their restaurants transforms the typical dining experience, and forces people to exercise some analytical thinking and develop an opinion, for better or worse.

A few of the "best" Yelp reviews that may be heard while in Craft & Commerce's Loos are included below for your entertainment:

I have never been in a place that tries soo hard. This place is the epicenter of those assholes with the mustaches….Next, the place is jammed with hippsters eating corn dogs….” -- Adam I.

The food doesn't live up to the hype. Biscuits that taste like the ones from Red Lobster but half the size. Average fried chicken. We've had better mussels at Bleu Boheme. And the bacon ice cream sandwich? Re: bacon -- just because it's trendy, doesn't mean you have to do it.” -- April L.

There really is no vodka here. But the bartender who helped us had big muscles and suspenders, so I guess that makes up for the lack of my alcohol of choice. Settled for a Mule and was content. It's like a mojito, but the dominant flavor being ginger instead of mint. Me loves me some ginger.” – Azure I.

FRIES -- Too chewy and hard. In my opinion, not ideal. If I came back, I'd substitute the fries for something else. You know, like replacing one American puppet dictator with another. You know, to eventually promote democracy or something like that….ATTIRE - To blend in, dress up with hipster tones and flaunt a New York accent.” – Brian K.

Chef Jason McLeod
Equal parts restaurant and conversational destination, Craft & Commerce's unique aesthetic resembles that of a dimly-lit, industrial literary cabin swathed in the din of exuberant communication—with hundreds of hardbound classic novels (sourced from a local nonprofit that provides millions of books to the community) stacked on ceiling-high bookshelves, oversized glass doors with Ford Model T steering wheels for handles, and handwritten passages from John Steinbeck and David Foster Wallace scrawled on weathered wooden-slat walls and lime green booths.

Executive Chef, Jason McLeod, brings his Michelin Star experience to the contemporary take on seasonal American cuisine, while beverage manager, Ryan Fisher, heads up a diverse craft cocktail and beer program born from months of collaboration with New York City bartending giant Phil Ward (Death & Co., Mayahuel).  The deliberately eclectic, thought-provoking décor conceptualized by notable San Diego brick-and-mortar guru Paul Basile all embody the owners’ core philosophy that a casual dining space should also inspire the resurgence of real human interaction, thoughtful dialogue and the exchange of ideas. This progressive inclination is unwavering amongst the entire staff at Craft & Commerce, complemented by a shared disposition to educate customers on the nuances of the restaurant’s quality-driven fare, handcrafted cocktails and intricate design elements that permeate its 1,500 square-feet.

Meticulous attention to detail underscores every facet of the project—from custom meat grinds and an in-house smoker to slow-melting, perfect ice cubes fashioned by San Diego’s first Kold-Draft machine. Punctuated by fresh-squeezed juices, ornate syrups created on-site for maximum flavor and the notable lack of vodka behind the bar (an odorless, tasteless spirit contradicts efforts to eliminate unnecessary ingredients), Craft & Commerce’s cocktail program is influenced by the country’s leading visionaries in New York, Chicago and San Francisco—while paired with 24 drafts that aim to celebrate San Diego’s recognition as a world leader in the craft beer movement.

Craft & Commerce, located at 675 W. Beech St. in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood, is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. For more information, please call 619-269-2202 and visit
Craft and Commerce on Urbanspoon