A new app is entering the restaurant ratings fray. The creators of Renzell invited several hundred New Yorkers to dine out at 54 of the city's hottest restaurants over the next year. After visiting these restaurants anonymously, on their own dime, the Renzell users rate them based on eight different factors — they answer 75 questions, total. Next fall, the company will release an official ranking of these establishments based on that data. That announcement will also coincide with the release of a quarterly magazine focusing on these establishments, and the participating restaurants will also get to see live feedback from Renzell users on a private dashboard. So, this information will theoretically help them make adjustments to the way they operate throughout the year.
The app is the brainchild of Bo Peabody, a venture capitalist who is also a partner in a handful of restaurants in the Berkshires and Massachusetts. Renzell users first have to answer around 10 questions about their tastes and dining habits. From this data, the company builds a profile for each user. Renzell uses an algorithm to compile the ultimate ranking that takes the user preferences and aversions into consideration.
Peabody explains that while researching the other ratings systems out there, the team realized that some organizations were "allowing too many people to become raters, but not getting enough information about who those people are." The entrepreneur also explains: "We had a list of about 500 or 600 people, and we invited about 75 of them. Once those people had done enough surveys, we invited them to start inviting other people to start taking them. It's an invite-only referral based system."
Renzell is covering some of the biggest restaurant groups in New York City right now, including Union Square Hospitality, Major Food Group, and Made Nice. Peabody notes: "There are only so many restaurants in New York that offer what we consider to be a holistic dining experience. That is really important to us." Naturally, these restaurants skew toward the high end. These restaurants are not paying to be part of this list or the app.
The Renzell app has been in the works for about two years now, but as of this month, the ratings program is up and running. The restaurants will get access to the intel from the anonymous diners next year, and the new rankings will be released next fall. You can find more info about this app on its homepage. Here's the list of the restaurants:
Eleven Madison Park
Mission Chinese Food
Pearl & Ash
The East Pole Kitchen and Bar
The Musket Room
Upholstery Store: Food & Wine
ZZ's Clam Bar