Restaurants - What are your own standards for accepting them?
Since the November 2020 criteria refresh, popular restaurants are listed in the eligibility criteria under the great place to be social category, but to this day, they still really struggle to get accepted. I'm hoping to use this post to get opinions from reviewers on what exactly it takes for people to vote favourably on restaurants, why some reviewers simply do not like them no matter how many bells and whistles they may have, and whether the criteria surrounding them could be worded in a better way for reviewers to make a more informed decision when they review restaurants. It would be even better if @NianticTintino @NianticGiffard and/or @NianticDanbocat could chime in with their own thoughts/opinions on my post and what their thoughts are about popular restaurants as wayspots as well, as I do think this is a conversation that needs to be had.
According to the acceptance criteria, as well as meeting at least one of the eligibility criteria (which they are explicitly mentioned as doing so), popular restaurants must also be safely accessible, a permanent location, and have accurate information in the title, description and picture. Most popular restaurants will already comfortably meet all of these criteria (you go there to be social and have a meal; most of the time you have to be able to walk into a restaurant to get your food; most restaurants spend years in the same building; and submitters should always make sure that what they're putting in their submissions is accurate and relevant).
This then leaves us with the rejection criteria. There is some overlap here with rejection criteria basically being the opposite of the acceptance criteria (which is perfectly logical), so ignoring those specific rejection criteria as I've already covered them in the acceptance criteria above, let's try to focus on any of the remaining rejection criteria that could realistically apply to a popular restaurant.
- A generic business, chain, or franchise that is not locally unique
Ah yes, the old generic business rejection criteria, which was removed from being a listed rejection reason, but still exists in the criteria itself. This obviously applies to places like McDonald's, Nando's, etc., but the wording of it also seems to specifically exclude locally unique restaurants from meeting this rejection criteria. So, if your popular restaurant is unique to your local area, that means it should not fall foul of this specific rejection criteria, right?
And looking at the rest of the rejection criteria, that's actually pretty much it for the rejection criteria that would realistically be applicable to most popular restaurants. Obviously there are some cases that would be outliers and meet other rejection criteria (school canteens, restaurants on military bases, adult themed restaurants (are those even a thing?), or submissions that are just downright abuse), but the vast majority of popular restaurants should only really have to contend with that single rejection criteria, assuming they do indeed pass the requirement of meeting the four acceptance criteria.
So, given the above information, popular restaurants should be fairly easy to get accepted... Except they aren't. Far from it, in fact. What I want to understand is why this is the case. Is there perhaps some difficulty when it comes to the word "popular" being a rather vague and subjective term? If so, what would convince you as a reviewer that a restaurant is indeed "popular"? Does it need to have existed for several years (if so, how many?)? Does it need to have won awards (and if so, what kind of awards? Would local awards suffice, or would they have to be national/international?)? Does it need to be in a food guide/have good ratings on Trip Advisor/Google Reviews?
Where do you as a reviewer set the bar for restaurants to be considered popular, and why do you set the bar where you set it? What makes the difference between you voting to accept a restaurant and voting to reject it?
I look forward to hearing people's opinions and thoughts on this (I'll answer this post myself as well with my own views), and hopefully we as a community can try to bring some more clarity to this (yes, I know, clarity on the Wayfarer Forum, it's a strange concept haha), as it definitely seems like restaurants need some help when it comes to getting some love and respect from both submitters and reviewers.
I'm pretty lenient. If I search for the restaurant and it appears to be not a large chain and an established place with a significant number of 4-5* reviews on Google/Trip Advisor/etc., I'll approve it. I also don't expect to get an agreement when I do.
Right, so apologies for the rather long post haha. My thoughts on what makes a restaurant "popular":
Being featured in a guide/getting high Trip Advisor/Google review scores can be useful, but I don't necessarily think this is the only way of proving a restaurant is popular. The same applies to awards - they can be useful in helping to show that the restaurant has something special about it, but again, I don't think they are a necessity.
For me personally, I find the length of time the restaurant has been there to be the most important factor in determining how popular it is. That's not to say that new restaurants can't also be popular (that's where awards/guides/ratings can be particularly helpful), but if a restaurant has existed for years (at a bare minimum I'd say 5 years), that goes towards showing that it is popular (as well as proving permanency), as it simply wouldn't exist if it wasn't getting customers. That's literally the way businesses work - if there's no demand for them (in other words, they're not popular), then they're not sustainable and they go under.
So most of the time, assuming the submitter has done a better job than just putting "popular restaurant" in the supporting info, I'll be fairly lenient and accepting when reviewing them, especially if they've been around for years (and there's proof of that). Awards are an extra bonus that help me feel more confident about rating them highly, but generally speaking, so long as they're not a generic chain business like McDonald's, and they've either been around for a few years or they're new but have won awards or have high ratings, then I'll review them favourably.
Literally just a solid effort.
If the nominator tries, tells me about what the restaurant does so well, and doesn’t just fill the submission with buzzwords, I will usually accept.
I reviewed a submission for a restaurant that wasn’t even open yet, that was kind of funny.
Care to elaborate?
For the most part, I think my standards of such restaurants/cafes scale up depending on how rural I perceive the area and then higher in suburban, and probably to the highest standards within the city. What matters to me the most is the description and supporting statement, if it is done comprehensively and detailed enough without being generic/buzzword-y, it'll get good marks from me.
So my bars for such are scaled as per the following loose criteria:
Rural areas/regional towns:
For the most part, the majority of such restaurants will also have interesting eligible features which are nominatable within them or nearby, such as murals, sculptures, architecture, or even a special plaque to signify their prominence. They gain precedent over the restaurant themselves (almost all the time). Temporality isn't much of an issue although I like such a nomination to exist for at least a year or two; if it's there, it's there, if it gets closed down, it gets reported pretty quickly and I provide evidence to the appeals section immediately should the report fail.
My two cents.
I'm not super strict, but there are a few things I generally want to see.
That would be the minimum. Other considerations that may raise score are if the restaurant holds events and/or has the capacity to host private events; has recreation like volleyball, billiards, or arcade machines; has particular cultural relevance, such as the only authentic cuisine of that type in the region; and/or has something else unique or particularly local, such as a coffee house selling pastries from a bakery in the same town and brewing with beans roasted by a local roaster.
One thing I didn't mention is how good their food is, which seems to be what the majority of submitters focus on for some reason. In terms of NIA criteria, the food quality doesn't really matter all that much compared to how good the place is for gathering and socialization. We've all been to a diner with unremarkable food but is a staple in the town.
adult themed restaurants (are those even a thing?)
@HankWolfman-PGO maybe ****? LOL
It must be adult-themed if the filter stops it lmao. (insert jab about how the filter censors everything) H.oo.ters is what I meant.
I think people focus on how good the food is for the same reason you look for a good number of strong reviews. A large part of a restaurant review is the quality of the food and having good food makes a restaurant more popular.
I think I'm quite lenient for restaurant nominations, especially for rural areas.
For me the most important is:
The only exeption might be for me if one of them is really the only restaurant in some small village, and there isn't many POIs - I might consider it then (if they text and photo is good too), but I didn't saw an exmple like this so far, so it's theoretical for now ;)
I also won't reject something only because there is another restaurant/cafe like this in the same city or nearby city (if it's not from big chain, but is local owned) - having 2-3 restaurants by one person is not the same for me as big chain company with thousands of restaurants in the country, so even 2-3 of one owner's local restaurant in one location can become a POI in my opinion. If he have much more of them, it's a no, but having 2 the same resaurants is not a chain yet for me.
I always do search for some informations or opinions about places like that, but submitters should put at least a bit effort in giving reviewers information about this place he/she want to get in game.
Writing in description informations like "It's a local italian restaurant, that serves amazing pasta and pizza. It's best known for they amazing Spaghetti Aglio and very good Espresso. Locals go for dinners and meetings here since 2003." is not really a hard job for someone who want to add a POI to game, and I as a reviewer shouldn't do all this job by searching it because I only got restaurant name and location in submission. It's definetly also submitters job to "sell" they nomination at least a bit.
I might be a bit lenient in very rural areas with less POIs, but writing something about nomination like that is still a must for me.
It's the most important to me, and for other rules, I review it exactly as I review every other nominations (if the photo isn't bad/copyraghted, if it's not fake or don't have game reference in description, etc.).
I quite like restaurant/cafe nominations, and don't reject many of them, if there is only a bit effort made while doing a submission.
That is a very good nomination, I agree, and I'd happily give it a good rating if I was reviewing it. There's no doubt that it should be acceptable. My only issue would be that it's only been open since 2019 (according to Google), but like I said, that's where awards help out, and this obviously has awards of a very high standard which make me care less about the fact it's only been open for 2 years. Personally I don't think I'd need Michelin stars or AA Rosettes to justify that view though - even local awards and a good rating on Google/TA would have sufficed for me. This particular nomination definitely exceeds my personal standards by quite a margin.
I mean.. you can't honestly base this as the guideline. This would be the creme de la creme of perfect submissions, and not just in the restaurant category. The person who submitted it did more leg(and photoshop) work putting together a compilation of brochures and food guides and writing a longer description than I've seen on any wayspot in all of my years playing Ingress and Pokemon GO.
This hardly answers OP's question which isn't asking what's the best submission you've ever seen for a restaurant, but rather quite the opposite - What's the cutoff.. what is the bare minimum required to get approved.
For me, it's any restaurant that has more than a few dozen reviews, isn't a chain restaurant, and where the submitter has put a bit of effort into the description(No need for a wall of text, but some basic information - Whether it's the reason why this is a good submission, some unique specials they have which differentiate them from others, or even just a basic "This restaurant is a great fish food restaurant that's been around here for over 30 years" would be fine by me. Just not the usual nonsense "Restaurant on X street" descriptions).
As for your other question asking why these things are so hard to get accepted - From personal experience, I've yet to see a single restaurant approved anywhere within a 50 km (roughly 35 miles) from me, so it's quite apparent restaurants aren't getting approved despite lots of notable candidates , and I would say the fault lies with Niantic's insufficient communication with its reviewers, and it can be broken down to 3 issues:
@HankWolfman-PGO This is the issue. For some reviewers the ceiling is also the floor. And in Wayfarer minority rules. That is why its fairly easy to get things through like soccer fields, gazebo's and playgrounds. They are universally accepted so as long as its a descent submission they go through. When a small portion of the review population sets unrealistic expectations for a specific category, its like putting a thumb on the scale. It only takes a few bad reviewers adding their thumb to get something rejected.
As for me, I am a foodie and love finding new places so I rate most restaurants fairly high unless the nomination is legit trash. Most restaurants fail in the first two years so if they have been around for longer then 2 years they are popular enough to survive and meet the criteria or "popular" ; FYI very subjective scale. I don't really care much about seating or the look of the building. Rural, city or suburb, should not play into it at all. Every playground in a city is a stop and in some newer multiuse developments they are literally everywhere. Why shouldn't two pizza joints across the street, that both have diehard followers that swear by one location or the other, be wayspots because in some weird twisted logic they are now "generic" because their are two of them. Flawed logic.
Small business need support now more then ever. Making them appear in games that we all play a lot is another small but great way to support them.
Thanks everyone for sharing your valuable opinion on this topic, I'll be glad to convey mine. Please note chain stores and other low-quality listings are ineligible. Regarding popular businesses, the submitter should provide more context in the supporting information on why it’s an important location in that area.
This probably won’t be a popular answer, but if the streetview in the area is only 2-3 years old, and the restaurant isn’t there, I usually reject it, unless the submitter does a fabulous job of convincing me it’s popular.
I have really low standards, though. If you can tell me one thing that’s special or unique about it, it’s at least a 3* from me (granted that it’s not a generic chain or a nomination that has to be rejected for something else). If it’s visible on streetview 5 years back and still there, it’s probably a decent restaurant.
Then why did Niantic accept these?
Whilst I share the general bewilderment and frustration that the community feels about some of the questionable reviews by Niantic, can we please keep those to their own thread(s) and keep this one focused on our own opinions of restaurant submissions?
There's a McDonald's in the thread.
The point I was trying to make was that this thread was specifically designed for wayfarers to have their own input on what they think makes a restaurant an acceptable nomination. Sorry if I kinda jumped on your back about that.
Whilst it's perfectly fine to be critical of some of the in house reviews done by Niantic (I agree that things like mattress shops and McDonald's shouldn't have ever been accepted), the thread you linked to already exists for the purpose of being critical of the decisions (and I don't think it's the only thread that exists for that purpose, as I'm pretty sure I've commented on another one that wasn't the one you linked). I was just trying to keep this focused on the original topic. Speaking of which, you're welcome to share your own standards for what it would take to make you approve a restaurant, as you haven't yet done so :)
Fair. When Giffard offered his stance (and indeed, you'd tagged him), I was curious why Niantic have still made no comment on the hyper low quality submissions they have been approving that seemingly fail to meet their established criteria. Digress aside.
I have spent a lot of time in rural areas where "the restaurant" is THE place to go and THE cultural focal point of the community. The kinds of places people go to for all celebrations or just a feeling of belonging, or they might make a point to stop by on a trip "home." Especially in rural areas, I don't expect a Michelin star or TripAdvisor supporting text, but I do appreciate when the submitter gives me something to accept for. What's it known for or how is it important?
(I'll bring the digress up one more time because of a restaurant that meets above points and, as I thought, in a good nomination that I suspect was rejected by Niantic.)
In more populous areas it gets a little more complicated. While I never base a review only on if it provides links, I do appreciate if there is a third party way to verify the information provided.
I am probably a minority who enjoys approving most dining locations.
its very hard if u are not a local to decide what is a good place and what is not.. everyone can say this place is best place to gather just to get poi accepted but this doesnt help those that review them really.
Personally if I see someone put in some sort of effort into the business submission I’m fairly lenient when reviewing it. And generally as long as it isnt a chain restaurant/business I tend to give positive ratings.
I see a lot of people submit a restaurant and it will literally just say “good food, meets criteria…” and thats about it. I’m not going to dive into the business’ history to find out why its important to a community when the community member can’t even elaborate why it is themselves.
The more unique I see the restaurant is the better chances it has. I also love to see any kind of community involvement from the restaurant as well although it isnt a must.
I'm very pro-restaurant. And you're right that, by the book, any non-chain/unique restaurant should be accepted. Problem is that Niantic shot everyone in the foot on this very early on with the early criteria, and the interpretation was that you had to PROVE your restaurant was special somehow.
And that's still the case.
So as much as I want to accept restaurants, and as much as people will whine about how they should be able to regurgitate single-word criteria as "proof" of the restaurant being perfectly acceptable, I currently expect (of myself and everyone else) some justification that is specifically tailored to that restaurant.
My general guideline is, "convince me to come here out of all the other restaurants I see on Google maps." If you use canned phrases like "popular" or "social" that means nothing. How can I take your word for it? Tell me why it's popular or why people come to be social. What makes this restaurant unique, what makes it worth my time and energy to make a detour to experience this place? What kind of food, and is there a special dish I need to try as a tourist? Is there a unique atmosphere or decor, like glow-in-the-dark spaceships on the ceiling, or live music, or cats? I want to feel your passion for the restaurant! I want to know that you've eaten there and know what you're talking about.
That's all I really want, and I'm personally lenient on those just because I know other people aren't. I also advise putting in a lot more, like awards and history and such, also because of that. Frankly, I'll be happy for the day when the criteria is relaxed enough so that reviewers aren't so insanely restrictive on these things, but until then, we're forced to navigate what we have.
"convince me to come here out of all the other restaurants I see on Google maps" is a very good way to put it. I don't feel like I have inordinately high standards for restaurants compared to my standards for a lot of other submissions, but I've been told I do. For me, it basically comes down to, "what's so good about this place?"
If the description or support comes down to buzzwords like "gem" or "locals", you've lost me. "The locals eat here", that's great, but I don't care. That means nothing to me. I eat in a lot of places where I live, but that's because they're close. Why is it a hidden gem? Tell me something interesting about it. Do they win awards for something they cook? Do they have something wild on their menu?
It's not super difficult to come up with something if you honestly feel value in a place and you're not just trying to get another Pokestop on the map, or another portal on your commute. I've had a seemingly generic pub approved because half of their menu has a lot of interesting things with tater tots (and they're extremely good - truffle aioli, bacon, and parmesan on tater tots? Yes please). On the rare occasion I will try to submit a restaurant, it's always because it's someplace I would take my friends if they were in town, because it offers something unique.
If a place has a lot of cool murals inside, or unique architecture outside, that supports the cause (and honestly, I'd probably just submit the mural because it's less hassle). But "been around for years" doesn't mean much to me either.
That said, I'll usually always five star a brewery if the picture is decent with a good description.