No matter how much you love Yelp, the site has its issues. It can be hard to decipher why a restaurant got a particular rating. Sometimes a restaurant’s score was dragged down by poor delivery, which doesn’t affect those dining in. Or, sure, the venue is known for its crappy service, but that doesn’t mean the burgers aren’t cooked to perfection.
Here’s where an app like Grate could be really helpful. Grate allows users to rate servers—and only the servers. Not only that, but you rate individual servers by name. Restaurants are given overall service ratings, but you can also see if one bad apple is dragging down an otherwise good eatery.
At first, the concept might seem a bit creepy, allowing people to target individuals who are just trying to do their jobs. But individual performance is valued in other service professions: For instance, when you get a haircut, you tend to go back to the same stylist—you don’t just settle for whoever happens to be working in the salon that day.
Grate also keeps everything discrete. Customers are allowed to leave comments, but those comments aren’t public. Users see how a server scored on a five-star rating scale, but only restaurant management is able to see written feedback (for a fee; that’s how Grate earns its keep). “Our point is not to bash people online. Our purpose is to improve customer service,” company founder Heigo Paartalu told SF Gate.
And though some servers certainly have reason to be skeptical that every customer would now have direct access to their bosses’ ears, Grate also promotes the positive possibilities of their service: By building a strong Grate profile, a server might be able to find work at other restaurants. It’s an online recommendation that could travel with them wherever they go. There’s also the possibility the idea could help servers financially in the short term: allowing customers to voice concerns without feeling the need to take their anger out of the tip.
The San Francisco-based company launched the app globally back in November. It is currently available only in the iTunes store.