Restaurant ratings based on numbers or stars often don’t tell the full story.
That’s why Bo Peabody, a venture capitalist and co-owner of restaurants Mezze and Allium in Massachusetts, decided to create Renzell, a data-driven app that creates restaurant reviews with surveys and algorithms.
The app focuses on eight different aspects of the dining experience: cocktails, design, food, hospitality, service, value, vibe, and wine or sake selections.
Each restaurant is reviewed by approved Renzell members, who must complete a 75-question survey addressing everything from the taste of the food to the comfort of the chairs.
Once the survey is completed, the results are sent directly to the restaurants.
Peabody told Business Insider he was “frustrated as an operator of restaurants that none of the review sources are transparent with them … if you’re honest with the restaurants, they can get better to improve the entire guest experience.”
Currently available only in New York City (though they plan to expand to Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles by 2018) Renzell includes data-driven reviews of 54 restaurants. When deciding which restaurants to include, the Renzell team looked at qualities like its overall reputation, beverage programs, as well as its inclusion on lists by The New York Times, New York magazine, Zagat, and others.
They will be adding more restaurants to the mix every September, though Peabody said there will never be more than 100 reviewed restaurants in each of their markets.
As a venture capitalist and entrepreneur, Peabody understands the importance of data. In the ’90s, he built a web hosting site called Tripod, which he eventually sold to Lycos for a reported $58 million. He also created Everyday Health, VoodooVox, Health Guru, and UplayMe.
He says that Renzell fills a gap in the restaurant review space. While Michelin reviewers are a small and somewhat subjective group, Yelp is a huge pool of people that may write a review after only going to a restaurant one time.
The Renzell team focused on interviewing potential members who he says lead the “luxury restaurant lifestyle,” regularly eating at upscale restaurants and staying in tune with the different elements of the dining experience. New reviewers have to be referred by current members.
“It’s going to be like the culinary version of SoHo House, where the club access becomes access to curated restaurant events,” Peabody said.
There are currently about 150 members, and more are being added all of the time.
People can apply for membership through Renzell’s site. They will have to go through a short application process, which will verify that they have experience eating at high-end restaurants and that they are not affiliated with any restaurant media.
Though the membership is free for now, starting in the spring, it will cost between $250 and $500. In addition to restaurant reviews, that fee will also include a subscription to Renzell’s quarterly magazine, invitations to curated events, and special gifts from the eateries.
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