November 09, 2011

Choosing Restaurants at Random

My friend recently recommended a restaurant in China Town. Excited and intrigued, I asked how she found it?


"Oh, a few years ago, we just decided to drive down to Chinatown and randomly picked a restaurant."

By sheer odds, this is probably the worst possible way to stumble across a great restaurant.

Now, back in high school, when driving around was a top recreational activity, my friend Kevin and I used to randomly drive in a direction - and half an hour later we would start looking around trying to find a place to eat.

We thought this tactic might help else discover hidden gems. In truth, we ended up looking for any place that sold pizza, and never hit any real winners.

Today, the high school versions of us might still drive the half hour, but then pull out their phone, go on Yelp.com and find the best rated local restaurant based on hundreds of local reviewers. Still get the adventure. But, you increase your odds of hitting a winner.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE FUTURE OF RESTAURANTS?

Terrible and even mediocre restaurants are going to die out. Because getting the optimistic drive-by customer isn't going to happen anywhere. Location next to the highway is going to matter less and less. Because now I can know there's a 5-star alternative just a few blocks away.