Yelp can now do more in Georgia than give you lots of reviews and opinions about restaurants. It can also tell you how sanitary they are.
Beginning today, the company will add health department scores on 14,000 businesses in Georgia to its usual restaurant pages. The same service had been previously added for various cities beginning in 2013 and was rolled out for Florida restaurants about a year ago, officials said. The company calls it the LIVES program, for Local Inspector Value Entry Specification, and is adding the inspection scores through a partnership with HDScores.com, which has inspection scores online for more than 879,000 businesses in the U.S.
“It just makes a lot of sense to give people restaurant hygiene information when they are in the middle of making a dining decision,” said Luther Lowe, vice president for public policy for Yelp. “We’re really excited to bring Georgia’s restaurants into this program.”
By clicking on a box, the customer can get the restaurants letter grade and number of violations, but can also go see what that inspection turned up, he said.
“We actually help summarize that in a helpful way for consumers,” Lowe said.
The program took inspiration from a move by Los Angeles County in the late 1990s to require restaurants to post their letter grade score on a storefront, an effort that lowered foodborne illness rates and motivated restaurants to improve scores, he said. Yelp is just making the information easier to access.
“These days you don’t have to get that information after you pull into the restaurants parking lot,” Lowe said. “Often, you’re not even leaving your house yet before you are making that decision. To have that right there on your phone or on your computer, right as you are about to make your dining decision, we feel that just puts it in a context that makes so much more sense.”
Restaurant owner Cary Goldsmith of Bodega Ultima can look at the Yelp app on his phone and see in the last month his page has been viewed by 650 people, with 119 taking some further action like calling or getting directions.
“I think it’s an effective tool, especially with how much growth we have in the area and how many people are moving in from out of town,” he said. Adding the inspection scores would be one more piece of information for consumers to access.
“It is probably just a better way for Yelp (customers) to get a well-rounded sense of a restaurant,” Goldsmith said.
Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or firstname.lastname@example.org