Do we really need another restaurant directory or restaurant review site? That’s what I asked myself when FoodPub reached out to let me know about their newly launched platform. Since I like to keep an open mind about things, especially new start-ups, I decided to give it a whirl before I passed any judgement. While they are headquartered in Austin, TX they also have an office in Ardmore, PA — so there is a local element.
According to the website, it states:
Our mission at FoodPub is to connect great restaurants with great diners.
Furthermore, they claim that you can:
Find great food in your neighborhood with #smarter #faster #dining from FoodPub.
On the press release, they take the mission statement further:
FoodPub empowers and partners with restaurateurs across the nation through a software toolset used to manage and market their restaurant via the internet. For diners, FoodPub provides real-time, advanced search capabilities to locate the perfect restaurant for any occasion, criteria or palate. FoodPub improves the dining experience for the diner, while improving overall cost and revenue structure for restaurant owners.
FoodPub comes off as more of a marketing platform for restaurants and a seemingly advanced search engine for diners in search of a restaurant to meet their particular dining expectations. FoodPub, quite possibly, could become a concierge, or at the very least a matchmaker, between restaurants and eaters and the idea of that is exciting. If it lives up to that, the concept is a powerful one and would benefit businesses and customers alike.
While the site was still in BETA, I signed up for an account to test drive as a diner. The search feature was pretty primitive and often provided outdated results i.e. restaurants that are no longer in business. As a diner, that turned me off to the platform, as I don’t want to be served outdated information especially about restaurants that are out of business. The last thing I want to do is drive somewhere only to find out the restaurant is closed. I simply chalked it up to the site being in BETA. Since they officially soft launched the new site last week, so far, it looks like they updated the directory as I’m not seeing quite as many outdated listings.
I think there are still some other kinks to be worked out especially in the advanced search feature. When I searched for a casual restaurant with full bar and outdoor seating, it returned a result of a local restaurant that I know does not have a liquor license. Again, I’m chalking this up to the site being new. I’m sure they’re working feverishly to correct oversights such as this as they go. I’m confident as more people join the site, the more FoodPub will become aware of and remove any inaccuracies and add recently opened restaurants to their directory quicker.
Leaving a review is a breeze. Simply go to the restaurant page and click on “Write a Review.” You will be prompted to a page where you can rate the restaurant (using the traditional 5 star system) on food, service and atmosphere and there is a text field where you can elaborate on your experience. Simple enough.
I can see how the site aims to set itself apart from Yelp and other review and directory websites. For starters, they’re taking social networking out of the picture. So it doesn’t have that user-to-user connection functionality. Diners can focus on what they’re looking for, the restaurant, simple reviews and not get distracted by other “shiny” things. Users can “favorite” a restaurant to get notifications about restaurant updates such as if their favorite special is back on the menu. For me, knowing when a certain special sushi roll is back on the menu at my favorite local sushi spot would be awesome.
I think restaurants will find FoodPub quite beneficial especially as a communication tool to spotlight featured dishes, special offers, menu details, etc. Not to mention restaurant owners will be able to preview reviews before they are posted. This is a unique feature that is likely to be attractive to restaurant owners as they seek to minimize negative reviews and provide good customer service. I don’t think it’s a bad thing as I’ve never been one to let bad reviews deter me from going to a restaurant. I like to judge based on my own experiences, not the experience of others. For this privilege, however, there is a $99/month subscription fee.
In summary, I feel FoodPub has a shot in the highly competitive world of online directories and review sites. I think they will find an audience and grow, especially once they work out the kinks and add new features. I look forward to watching their evolution and adding my own reviews along the way.
Check it out for yourself and let me know your thoughts!