Over 500,000 independent restaurants, most often referred to as “mom & pops,” support more than 11 million much-needed jobs across the nation. These small businesses, often minority owned, are essential for local economies to thrive — and vital for providing communities with safe places to eat, drink, and socialize — whether dining in or ordering out.

Over the last three years, Virtual Restaurant Consulting (VRC) has made it their business to help independent restaurateurs develop and grow off-premise dining sales. Without the financial backing of large corporate structures, these eateries and their employees rely on customer loyalty to survive — and that’s in the good times.

Now with the pandemic approaching six months, and thousands of eateries already permanently closed, never before has there been such a serious threat to independent restaurants. A recent study conducted by the Independent Restaurant Coalition estimates “up to 85% of the industry is in danger of disappearing.”

Realizing that increasing customer loyalty is key to helping independent eateries survive, Virtual Restaurant Consulting created an invaluable free online resource for diners and restaurateurs alike — MomandPopRestaurants.com. The information-packed website serves as a single location to search for, and order from, locally owned and operated restaurants.

Designed as a completely free service with a unique social format, the site’s features allow local diners to “meet” the restaurant owners through shared stories—serving up a more personal search experience.

The site allows restaurant owners to direct diners to the ordering platform of their choice, and does not impose any additional fees or commissions on the restaurant beyond those charged by the ordering platform.

Besides the social feature, a unique benefit of the site is the review system that accounts for negative reviews but does not ‘weaponize’ them against the restaurants.

Paul Kalms, senior partner at VRC, explains: “The only reason to leave a great review is if you enjoyed a great meal; but our analysis of thousands of 1-star reviews indicates negative (and frequently angry) reviews often reflect issues other than the quality of the dining experience…including the obvious bad mood and bias of the reviewer.”

MomandPopRestaurants.com provides unique badges for 4- and 5-star reviews and a review ranking that compares all restaurants across the platform and awards badges accordingly. The result, according to Kalms, is a “review system that incorporates poor reviews in the overall ranking without unfairly punishing restaurant owners for the occasional bad customer experience.”

MomandPopRestaurants.com is currently in the pre-launch phase, and encourages all independent restaurants to claim their free listing and tell their story.  The website will become publicly available once it is populated with restaurants across the nation. 

For information on how restaurants can obtain free listings, and how to support and promote ‘mom & pop restaurants,’ please visit:  https://momandpoprestaurants.com/about-us.html

Industry News, Technology