Tom Colicchio Thinks This Startup Could Replace Yelp

Does anyone out there remember a time before Yelp? The crowd-sourced restaurant, bar, and entertainment reviewing app and website has, amazingly, been around for almost 20 years, having made its debut in San Francisco (where else?) way back in 2004. As any who like eating out know, the company's dominance is almost unbelievable, heavily relied upon by diners — especially those who are traveling — to help find the perfect place for dinner or drinks.

But almost as long as it's been around, Yelp has been near-universally reviled by restaurant and business owners, who claim that it's far too easy for rival eateries to post negative reviews, and for internet trolls or a customer with a vendetta to seriously tarnish a business's reputation (via reputation x). As chef Chris Holland told lohud, "I think Yelp is corrupt and I think their filtering system is garbage. There are reviews on there that I know are fake and they're still there."

For those that are unsatisfied with Yelp — both business owners and prospective customers alike — there's a new-ish app (founded back in 2014) that's gaining a reputation for providing much more accurate and reliable customer feedback for restaurants. It's called Tattle, and according to an article published in Fortune, none other than celebrity chef and "Top Chef" judge Tom Colicchio is betting on it to replace Yelp.

Tattle's reviews (and data) come from customers

Chef Tom Colicchio isn't a fan of the crowd-sourcing restaurant review app Yelp. "Anything besides Yelp," he told Fortune. "When you have restaurants that haven't opened yet getting reviewed, you know something is wrong," he said, referencing the app's reputation for allowing fake reviews on its platform — both from restaurant owners hyping their own spots to rival eateries attempting to defame the competition (via reputation x). Colicchio hopes to see an underdog contender in the crowd-sourced review category make waves: Tattle. A group of several investors (which includes Colicchio) has raised $5.5 million in funding for the startup.

Alex Beltrani, the app's founder and CEO, told Franchise Times that Tattle, which sends fairly lengthy customer-satisfaction surveys to customers of its restaurant partners after they've eaten, was inspired by his parents. "They owned and operated a restaurant back in 1984 and understood guest input was critical to their success. As a solution, my parents relied heavily on paper customer comment cards for measuring guest satisfaction — a method popularized by Denny's in the early 1980s." Tattle relies on a similar (though digital) system to get feedback from customers, which also builds a bank of data for restaurant owners to see where they're doing well and which areas need improvement.

And that's one of the reasons Colicchio counts himself as a fan of the startup. "You get no data along with Yelp," he told Fortune. "You get some stars."