New restaurant review site targets senior citizens
There’s nothing like going out for a good meal. Except when it’s accompanied by loud noises. Or a hard-to-read menu. Or a lack of handicapped parking. Or comfortable seating. Or or or…
Thanks to the internet and smart phones, many diners today take advantage of restaurant review sites to help them choose where to eat.
But few of those sites cater specifically to a demographic that represents 50 percent or more of restaurants’ regular customers – senior citizens.
A Snohomish County company aims to fix that oversight. Computer Software Innovations, Inc. (CSI), headquartered in Mukilteo, has launched Restaurant Reviews for Seniors (www.ReviewsforSeniors.com), a website that invites restaurant reviews specifically designed to address the needs of seniors and the family and friends of seniors when choosing a positive dining experience.
The new website was the brainchild of CSI president Chuck Bernasconi, who thought of it after a semi-amusing dining experience with his brother.
“He came to visit from his home in Hawaii,” Bernasconi explained. “He said he’d buy dinner if I drove.”
After picking a restaurant and being seated, Bernasconi said he couldn’t understand the waiter who was describing the day’s specials. The ambient noise, an enemy of many older people, drowned out the waiter’s monologue.
Later, when the waiter presented the check, Bernasconi’s brother looked at it, then handed it over to Bernasconi.
“I said, ‘Wait a minute. That wasn’t our agreement,’” Bernasconi said. His brother explained he couldn’t read the small print and needed Bernasconi’s help to determine the tip.
“So one of us couldn’t hear, the other couldn’t see,” he laughed.
Thus was born Restaurant Reviews for Seniors. Bernasconi’s idea was to address not only the quality of food, drinks and service, but the special needs and interests of an aging populace.
The reviews entered by seniors or caregivers include items such as easy access, lighting, amount of background noise, easy-to-read menus, senior pricing/rewards, comfortable seating, use of wheel chairs/walkers, clean and easy to use restrooms, etc.
All reviews are anonymous and easy to enter by clicking the “Make a Review” option. A standard one-click, 5-star rating system is used as well as a detailed comments section.
Once posted, reviews are available to be viewed under “Search Reviews.” Users are notified that they use the site and information at their own risk.
There is no guarantee of accuracy, although the company monitors closely and does “field checks” on an intermittent basis, Bernasconi said.
Privacy is assured as seniors/caregivers or family members aren’t required to register or provide an email to use the site. Fonts are large, and the search options are simple.
There is a key word option so that a search on the key word “menu” will immediately list all reviews with the word menu in the comments. Other filters include restaurant name, city, state and star rating.
“We are currently focusing on building the number of reviews. Hopefully as the word spreads, it will grow exponentially” Bernasconi said.
The website also works on mobile web devices.
Here’s a typical review, in this case of a restaurant in Mukilteo: “Food is superior Italian (make own bread) though a little pricey. Handicapped parking is a ways from front door but walkway is flat. Pizza menu is readable, but main menu is impossible to read without strong glasses and more light. No senior discounts. Seating is comfortable and has a ‘homey’ feeling.”
Only three months old, ReviewsforSeniors.com needs many more reviews to be truly helpful. But it’s a start.
The new website is a whole new direction for CSI, a 30-year-old company that in the past has specialized in software in the fields of education, law, law enforcement, real estate and accounting.
But, as an aging Boomer himself, Bernasconi has high hopes that the new website is addressing a previously unmet need. His company is financing the free site, for now.
“Money doesn’t lead; it follows,” he said. “If the market likes it, we’ll succeed. Meanwhile, it’s fun!”