, the online, bilingual "yellow pages" headquartered in Herndon, Va., recently launched a national restaurant guide
. YaSabe also recently filled two positions, sales manager and director of program management, which brings its total ranks to 15 full-time staff
According to Jay Kelly, YaSabe's director of product strategy, feedback on the new online guide has been "very positive so far." The guide divides Latin cuisine into 17 different types, including Mexican, Argentine, Cuban, Brazilian, Dominican, Puerto Rican and so forth. Users can search for a specific type of cuisine in a specific location, or browse restaurants that are nearby.
Unlike other online restaurant guides, YaSabe's guide offers restaurant authenticity ratings and "buzz" scores. "[Those] are unique to us," Kelly says. "We use webcrawling technology to create them." The more green checkmarks below a restaurant's profile, the more authentic its cuisine is deemed to be. "We want to help people make distinctions," he explains.
Buzz scores, based on a five-point scale, come from online chatter about a restaurant. "We monitor the amount of chatter going on online for each restaurant - how many tweets, Facebook posts, blogs and so forth are referencing each restaurant," says Kelly. YaSabe users can also influence a restaurant's scores by posting feedback about the food and their dining experiences.
Ultimately, the online restaurant guide, whether helping diners choose a place for authentic Puerto Rican food in New York or a superior place for Cuban food in Miami, is about helping consumers become more informed. "We don't want someone to want to go to a Cuban restaurant and to expect to be able to order tacos," Kelly says.