Ever hear of Restaurantica?

6/3/2008 Sponsored Post:

restaurantica-logo.jpgI was asked by the owners of Restaurantica.com to “review” their site, which consists of over 100,000 restaurant reviews nationwide. Hopefully they’ll find my advice and observations useful.

The premise is to provide a directory of places to eat, and allows a forum for “Restauranticians” to share their views (“the good, the bad and the ugly”). Their site indicates it’s run by 10 people, and has been in business for five years. Listings are arranged by city, and can be sorted alphabetically or by rank. They currently have a dedicated listing for the city of Hoboken, but it only has one ranked restaurant: 10th & Willow.

After using it briefly, I’ll sum it up:

The Good

  • The site is well designed and simple to use. The color choices and open space make it easy on the eyes.
  • The technology behind writing a review is slick. Fancy gliders for the three categories add a bit of fun to the review process.

The Problems

restaurantica-site.jpgWhile the site is an ambitious effort to get the whole country to review restaurants on the same website, I feel this is where it might fall short.

For starters, there are already many “global” sites trying to go “local,” such as Citysearch, Google, Yahoo and more. There is just something missing when a cookie-cutter website conglomerate tries to have that local flair. Just doesn’t feel right to me. So their competition already has a huge head start on them, and it’ll be tough to build up a giant depository of reliable reviews. How many websites do you check before deciding where to eat? You could sit there all night trying to find a perfect place, and end up going hungry.

Secondly, leaving the reviews entirely up to anonymous posters will probably leave many folks confused. Why not incorporate some Zagat-style into the site? An editorial review, along with photos of the food and the restaurant seriously can help.

Furthermore, I believe a forum-style discussion about a restaurant also helps give you a “feel” for what a place is like, what kind of clientèle it attracts, updates other than just reviews, and more. To have just good, good, bad, bad, ok, good, bad reviews in succession might just leave you scratching your head.

If I owned Restaurantica, I’d suggest hiring dedicated restaurant reviewers for each city they cover, to provide their own viewpoint on an establishment. Additionally, I’m not sure how their ranking system works. For instance, with the 10th & Willow review, the one person reviewing it gave stellar 9’s across the board, but the overall rank was 6.9. What gives?

One other thing that might help, is to get menus, so folks can see what their choices are, cost, etc.

Conclusion

Overall, I was surprised that being in business for so long, that most places even in their most popular cities, all had single-digit reviews. Perhaps if they improved the features and added more visuals the site it might become a valuable resource in some communities. But trying to break into all markets, where there already may be a really crowded web community might be tough.

Good luck to them anyway! Give it a shot, and share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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6 Comments on "Ever hear of Restaurantica?"

jerryhung
Member
jerryhung

Restaurantica started in Guelph, Ontario, and expanded along the way, I believe USA in 2007.

I’d think Restaurant, the sheer size and diners, will be #1 in any competition, ahead of spas/gyms/salons. The fact there are so many restaurant websites speak to that

But again, thanks for mentioning us. Visit us often :mrgreen:

http://www.restaurantica.com

emarche
Member

Restaurantica is excellent. A lot of people have been giving them crap after their last album, but if you go back to their evolution from Ride the Lightning through…oh wait..

lily731
Member

agreed, i’m a huge yelp fan

jerryhung
Member
jerryhung
Thank you hoboken411 for the coverage of Restaurantica, I picked up your blog on Google News Alert Restaurantica is still in the works, and always always will have more rooms for improvements, and listen to users’ comments. so thank you There are MANY, MANY restaurant review website – Yelp being the big one, Zagat… I’d say mostly USA-oriented while Restaurantica started as Canadian, and therefore 70% of reviews are Canadian thus far. Expanding into USA it no easy task, but Restaurantica is trying To address some questions: 1. RestaurantRank is calculated so that 1 review doesn’t determine the restaurant (so a 10 review, or a 1 review will not immediately push the restaurant to the top, nor the bottom). In short, there’s some padding to reflect more “accurate” rating 2. Anonymous review is always tricky. There are always 2 sides, take your blog for example, the need to signup before leaving a comment will turn people away – me included, if it wasn’t for me wanting to leave a comment badly 😉 Also people can feel free to comment behind their screen, without thinking one day they will be tracked down. For example, my username is ‘jerryhung’, what if I leave a bad bad bad review for a business, and now he/she tracks me down? Yes, I could pick a new username, but there are 2 sides to this never-will-be-solved debate As always, users can “choose” to leave a review anonymously, OR sign up, and leave a review. 3. Pictures… Read more »
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