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Final Review: Paul G. Ferrara

If you aren’t an active user of Yelp, you may not be familiar with this name, or his moniker Paul F. But if you’ve been posting or reading reviews on the popular website for long enough, you have definitely seen it before.

Yelp

With over 900 posted reviews, Paul F. might just be the most prolific reviewer in the history Columbus.

Speaking to an audience of anyone who would listen, Paul had an opinion about pretty much every establishment he visited. He wasn’t particular about which places he reviewed, often posting reviews of a fast food chain, or a home goods store, along with the best restaurants in the city. Statistically, it’s almost guaranteed that he had an opinion about your favorite and least favorite spots in town. Whether or not he agreed with you is another story.

Beloved by many, and the bane of some restaurant owners’ existence, by the end of his life this fall at 70 years old, he was a force to be reckoned with. In memory of Paul, we reached out to some of his fellow Yelpers, and others who knew him, and asked them to send us their “reviews,” a fitting tribute to a beloved and unique member of the Columbus community. 

Christina Christian ****
Former Columbus Community
Manager, Yelp

Who in the hell compares sex and food? Paul F,. that’s who.

There isn’t one Yelper in the whole community who wanted to entertain the imagery of Paul F., sex, and food for even a second; yet, every time you visited his profile, there it was, staring you square in the eye. His profile quote: “Sex is good, but not as good as fresh, sweet corn.” ::shudder:: But man, was that guy passionate—about food, about local businesses, about telling the world his opinion. About sex? ::shudder::

When I came on board to lead and grow the Columbus Yelp community as its first community manager back in 2010, nothing could’ve prepared me for the force that was Paul F. That man is a Yelp legend.

Quite possibly one of the oldest (by age), most active Yelpers on the site—although, that’s not confirmed—I can confidently say Paul was one of the key users that helped really make us a community. He wrote reviews (lots of them), came out to events, interacted with members on and offline, and had the time and vested interest in being a site “watchdog,” alerting me to spammy or suspicious activity. I’ll never forget trying to entertain him when he attended events—half an hour early! Who does that?! Paul F. that’s who. He could barely hear, and didn’t wear hearing aids, so every interaction was a slow, enunciated shout. I walked away from our conversations laughing every time. 

Yelpers knew him in Columbus and beyond; business owners referred to him as “that old, fickle reviewer,” and I will always hold a suspicion that he impersonated me in postcards to business owners via snail mail. I’ll never know for sure.

Fickle yes, but he was clearly a memorable man. His uncanny method of direct compliments, or criticisms, will live on forever on the Internet—his legacy for all of us.

Bryant Miller *****
Columbus Community
Manager, Yelp

I’m glad I waited five years to review Paul F. My love for him was not instant, like it was for Northstar or Jeni’s. No, he was an acquired taste.

On the surface, he was a white-haired grump who was hard of hearing and sometimes (read: always) said inappropriate things at all the wrong moments. When I first met Paul, it would have been easy to pass judgment and give him one star.

But like most acquired tastes (I’m lookin’ at you, kimchi), the payout was worth any pain.

Yelp event after Yelp event, Paul was there. And being the socially awkward person that I am, I found myself in many a corner chatting (yelling) at him. He quickly became our anchor and was the most important person for Yelp Columbus. His opinion was the only one that mattered.

While his reviews weren’t always prolific (heck, some didn’t even follow Yelp’s terms of service), they were always unequivocally Paul. My favorite review—which was either removed or self-edited—went something like, “I walked into the bakery. Nothing looked very good, so I turned around and left. One star.”

That’s the type of sweet poetry that only Paul F. could write.

Liz M. ****
Yelp Reviewer

The fact that I have cried laughing while reading some of Paul F.’s reviews warrants that he receive not less than four stars.

I saw his white hair first. Then, his nametag, “Paul F.,” but he didn’t even need the name tag because everyone already knew Paul F. His reviews created a reputation that preceded him. Paul F. was a prolific Yelper, one of the first in Columbus. While his reviews weren’t always useful, funny, or cool, they were Paul F. reviews (and mostly achieved at least one of the three categories).

The last time I saw Paul F. was at an Elite Yelp event earlier in the year. We chatted for a minute, just conversational niceties, and then he asked me, “So, what d’ya think of this place?” After I gave my reply, he says (whispering to be nice), “Ya know, I don’t think it’s that great.” And that was Paul F., with his sex and sweet corn quotes, his red digital camera, his self-documented poor navigation skills, his quick-to-judge and never-sugarcoated reviews, his honest opinion, and his commitment to recording all of it on Yelp!

Tommy Gallo *******
Chef/Owner
Gallo’s Kitchen & Bar

As far as first impressions go, Paul F. seemed like any other customer. Seated by himself, he took no notes or pictures that I was aware of. Quiet, unassuming, and soft-spoken. I think back to the first time we met…how little I knew this man would impact my life. In his honor, I submit this review:

Personality First-class. Humble, polite, complimentary. A true gentleman in every sense of the word.

Food Knowledge Immeasurable. 928 reviews; all were insightful, articulate, and to the point.

Ego None.

Overall review I met a customer, and he became a dear friend. Paul once wrote that my restaurant was one of his favorite…what a tremendous honor. In doing what he loved, he helped my restaurant develop, and helped me grow as an owner. Not only for his reviews, but for his friendship, he will be missed.  You are truly worthy of the unprecedented 6 Star Review Paul F.

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