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Cantina 1910 Owners Actually Don't Mind Your Pissy Yelp Review

By Josh McGhee | November 10, 2015 5:51am
 Last week, The Chicago Reader ran a review asking readers to
Last week, The Chicago Reader ran a review asking readers to "Save Cantina 1910 from Ignorant Yelpers."
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DNAinfo/Josh McGhee

ANDERSONVILLE — Owners of Cantina 1910 say they appreciate good and bad Yelp reviews, despite a Chicago Reader piece noting the Andersonville restaurant was receiving some potentially damaging feedback from diners.

Last week, the Reader's food writer Mike Sula wrote "Save Cantina 1910 from Ignorant Yelpers," which pointed to the closing of solid dining options in the neighborhood, including Premise, Pasticceria Natalina and Great Lake Pizza. In the piece, he writes that Andersonville "isn't always welcoming to innovative and uncompromising culinary talent" — and worried that sort of attitude could ruin Cantina 1910, which he dubbed one of the best new restaurants in the city. 

"I was disappointed, but not really surprised to see folks claiming to have been eagerly awaiting the opening, and then offering the typical one-star complaints about high prices, small portions, pretentious dishes, charges for chips and salsa, the presence of headcheese, the absence of rice and beans, and g------ it to hell where is the margarita list?" wrote Sula. "These are grievances indicative of the sort of people whose assumptions about Mexican food are framed by Taco Bell on the low end and Uncle Julio's on the high."

The rest of the review rains high praise upon Cantina 1910's chef Diana Dávila's food and the ambitious project. But Mark Robertson, co-owner of the restaurant, wasn't as angry about negative reviews. In fact, the restaurant uses the reviews to better serve the community, he said.

"Every person is entitled to their opinion and Yelp and other sites provide a venue to voice opinions, this isn’t a bad thing at all in our view," Robertson, the owner of the restaurant at 5025 N. Clark St., told DNAinfo.

"We truly take all feedback under consideration, especially when it comes to improving what we can do at the restaurant. We heard our neighbors wanted a margarita, so we added one to the menu. We heard that dishes were too small, so we added additional larger entrees. We heard that the drinks were too expensive, so we updated with less expensive options."

While they love the concept of the restaurant they aren't "too stubborn to listen and make adjustments where we can," he said.

Sula's piece also sparked a wave of positive reviews on the restaurant's Yelp page, something that Robertson is "proud of" because it shows guests are supporting their hard work and dedication to the business and community. 

"As a restaurant taking a very updated approach to Mexican cuisine, we are really looking to differentiate ourselves as something unique. We spent almost two years conducting research, hosting pop-up dinners, and crafting our menu, all of which benefited charities in the community and allowed our neighbors to test out our recipes and cooking methods," he said.

And despite the rocky start on Yelp, the restaurant hasn't even considered leaving its home in Andersonville and remains committed to the neighborhood. They proudly don community art all around the restaurant. That includes lighting fixtures by Ted Harris and Cameron Hirz, tables created by Square Nail, glass by Mark Stolt and pottery by Amanda Gentry. They also participate and sponsor tons of local events, he said.

"We’ve been part of the Andersonville community for a long time, well before opening Cantina 1910, and it is part our DNA to support the community. We are, at our core, all about being local and we came to Andersonville because this community supports the tenants of Cantina 1910: localism, sustainability and community," Robertson said.

"We are all about building sustainable and strong communities and we believe that Cantina 1910 will continue to be a key supporter of the continued successes of all the things that make Andersonville great."

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