Emoji restaurant rating app launches in Lake Tahoe Basin and Reno | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Emoji restaurant rating app launches in Lake Tahoe Basin and Reno

Claire Cudahy
Likemoji co-founder and CEO Alex Barrett says the app is a more "democratic" way of reviewing restaurants.
Claire Cudahy / Tahoe Daily Tribune |


Oxford Dictionaries named the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji the Word of the Year in 2015. Yes, word . It was the most used emoji globally, reported mobile-tech business SwiftKey. Also, according to data from the Oxford Dictionary Corpus, use of the word ‘emoji’ more than tripled in 2015 over the previous year.

Capitalizing on the ever-popular trend of expression through emojis, a new restaurant-rating app has launched in Lake Tahoe and Reno.

Likemoji allows users to choose from 80 different icons to describe their experience at a restaurant or bar and search for an establishment nearby using the icons that matter most to them.

“There’s a lot of places out there on a typical review platform that might have a 3- to 4-star rating, but you don’t really know why that is, and then you are stuck reading a bunch of reviews that may or may not be relevant to what you care about,” explained Likemoji co-founder and CEO Alex Barrett.

“So with this system I can say I want to go somewhere fast, kid-friendly, and that has good BBQ” — simply select the stopwatch, kids and flaming ribs emojis in the search section — “and you’re going to find the best places for that based on crowd source sentiment versus anything that you may or may not care about.”

Barrett describes this as a more “democratic” way of reviewing restaurants, which doesn’t allow one disgruntled reviewer’s experience to tarnish the reputation of a restaurant.

“We just want people to say if there is something that stood out to them as significant about the place. They can recommend that or share their experience about it in a very quick way,” explained Barrett.

The ease of use is something Barrett hopes will encourage people to review more often.

“A lot of people don’t realize this, but it’s right around 1 percent of users on traditional long-form review platforms,” —such as Yelp or TripAdvisor, “actually write reviews,” said Barrett.

“So you don’t get a very high frequency of reviews to places, which gives those people that do write reviews a pedestal to say what they want and really dictate a lot of the fate of a business.”

So what sort of review has the popular South Shore dining spot Sprouts Café received? The most frequently used tags on the app say its defining points are casual (polo shirt emoji), healthy (apple/heart monitor emoji) and smoothies (blender emoji).

Likemoji also hosts a social feed that allows users to log in through Facebook and see what reviews and photos their friends are posting about dining establishments around the lake.

In addition to rating restaurants and bars, users can earn special offers through check-ins or enter contests.

“We periodically run contests in the app where as you tag and rate things you get entries for things. Last month we gave away a Squaw season pass. This month we are giving away $500 Amazon gift cards, so there’s always going to be incentives in there for users to share their experience or post photos,” explained Barrett.

Businesses can also use the app to offer enticements like discounts or free drinks, or to announce promotions. Likemoji is also working to offer analytic reports to businesses based on what reviewers are saying.

Likemoji is based out of Incline Village. Barrett, co-founder and CTO Steve Tietze and developer Ben Cooper officially launched the app in September.

“We’re basically testing the platform locally with businesses and users, and we are looking to partner with a lot of local businesses to see what kinds of things they’d want us to develop for the platform,” said Barrett.

Likemoji is available for free download in the Apple App Store.

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