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Americans don’t have a stronghold on restaurant ratings anymore.

Typically, when I’m checking out a restaurant I’d like to eat at in Prague, I scan its yelp page (always in English) for the ratings. This has been more or less true for every country I’ve visited, despite the fact that the predominant language of the country isn’t English. Surely there are other ways to search for restaurants that are made by and for Czech people, and don’t rely on American apps.

Enter Scuk: a restaurant rating website, based not only on the opinions of loyal reviewers, but of Scuk official reviews as well. It started out as a Czech food blog in 2010, but gained enough of a following to get its Yelp-style project off the ground in 2014. Unlike its American predecessor, non-employee reviewers only can have their reviews posted if they review a number of different restaurants, to prove that they are not working for the restaurant to fraudulently boost ratings. Restaurants are only rated by Scuk official reviewers after the recommendation of the site’s users. However, even if the restaurant has not yet been reviewed by a user or official reviewer, Scuk will list the important information, such as price, cuisine, and address, so that you may go and see for yourself!

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Muj šálek kávy’s Scuk page. Image screengrabbed from Scuk.cz. 

On top of all that, the website is only in Czech (I managed to navigate the site using Google Translate). I like that this reviews site is more about the sincere interest in food and restaurants, rather than leaving a one off rating from a bad experience. Scuk is more about the culture and community around food, which seems to make it much like a social network. Part of this comes from the fact that it started out as a blog that connected with its readers. There are ample food blogs about Prague that are excellent (Taste of Prague, etc.), but Scuk is the only one I’ve come across that was exclusively posted in Czech. Taste of Prague, however, is run by two locals, that took the experience of an online social network on their blog and translated it into a real life business. They offer a food tour of Prague and a wine tour in Moravia, which for any foodie that does a little research, would be great, unexpected ways to tour the Czech Republic and learn about their culture.

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Image screengrabbed from Taste of Prague.

However, it also seems that some of the food blogging here has transferred over to more mobile-based social media apps. The first English-language food blog for Prague, Czech Please, made an announcement on his blog in 2014 that he would be moving to Facebook and Twitter mainly to post about food. However, he still uses his blog to make larger posts, typically about where to find the best hamburger. Though Twitter still isn’t huge in the Czech Republic, Czech Please has 2,010 followers and posts regularly everyday, keeping users up to date on new developments in the food world. On Sunday there was a pop-up Dim Sum experience, and I wish I had followed him sooner to find out about it!

Rather than thinking food blogging is a Western trend, I’ve come to appreciate the food culture through these blogs and websites, which offer much more than just another tourist’s Yelp review. And trust me, you’ll be eating much better for it.

Featured image screengrabbed from Scuk.cz

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5 thoughts on “Czech Yelp is Bigger and Better

  1. It is interesting that you wrote about a food site and food blogs because it is definitely a trend that I have been noticing more in the U.S. recently. It is cool to see that it is slowly becoming a part of life and social media here in Prague as well.

    Ironically, I didn’t even know much about food blogs or pay attention to them until I came to Prague. Maybe that is because I am seeking out good, local food now that I am traveling abroad. I started following food Instagram accounts and food blogs, like the famous https://instagram.com/foodintheair/ (I’m sure a lot of other people also follow this) this semester. Food in the Air is known for its pictures and captions of where to get European delicacies. I actually attempt to find as many restaurants as I follow while traveling on the weekends to different countries.

    I agree with you that Scuk is smart in making the website all Czech in order to attract locals. I feel like most sites like that are targeted towards tourists, so Scuk is differentiating itself. Being a foreigner and wanting the most “natural” experience and to find good, local food, I actually would go through the trouble of translating the Scuk website to English in order to find these restaurants. Sometimes I find Yelp or Trip Advisor’s reviews of places to be very touristy, and I would appreciate reviews from locals instead.

    I wonder if the Czech Republic will adopt apps with services like Scuk or even if Scuk will develop its own app for restaurant reviewing and rating in the near future as social media takes more of a hold in the Czech Republic. I guess that would also depend on the future of smartphones and the cost of those, since right now, I believe the plans are pretty expensive for them (a lot of people do not have them).

    Just by doing a little research I was able to find some other popular food blogs in the Czech Republic like http://bohemianbites.cz/, which actually uses Word Press as a platform for the blog. This is interesting because I would be curious to see how many people know about or use Word Press in the Czech Republic. I haven’t seen it used for anything else thus far here. It’s amazing how fads in social media travel from one place to another and how long it takes for them to get there. I am curious to see what is next in terms of social media for the Czech Republic!

  2. When I’m hungry and looking for a new food venue abroad, my first instinct is to visit Yelp or TripAdvisor. My parents were shocked to hear this, because they told me it took away from the charm of traveling. Our generation has trouble disconnecting from technology even when we go to new places. On the one hand this is bad, because we are still taking photos of our food, relying on other people’s opinions, and spending time looking down at our devices instead of observing our surrounding. However, social media has given us a layer of protection.

    Things work differently in the Czech Republic. During my first week of classes, my professor clearly explained that the customer is NOT always right. This viewpoint is completely new to me; my parents taught me to always make sure I get what I want from a restaurant (after all, we are the ones paying). Since that belief clearly does not hold true in Prague, restaurant rating websites can offer a way to ensure that certain standards are being met. It is putting some of the power back into the consumer’s hands.

    Learning about Scuk and its services has raised a question in my mind. We are reluctant to try new restaurants in fear of wasting money on a bad experience. In an age where information is so readily available, will we require complete information to make each decision? Will we continue to be risk averse in all aspects of life? Creativity is inspired by the desire to take risks. I can only hope our yelping behaviors do not carry back home and negatively affect our thinking in the future.

  3. After working for a wine company this past summer as a social media marketing intern, I learned how important it is for food and drink companies to have a strong social media presence. Having popular Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts generates not only customers, but more importantly, conversation. As we recently read and discussed in class, social networks create a space for social interaction that is then aimed specifically at exchanging info. This concept is quite universal, so it does not surprise me that sites like Scuk and Taste of Prague have emerged in the Czech Republic.

    I agree with your differentiation of these sites to ones like Yelp or Trip Advisor, which I have used quite frequently during my time in foreign European cities. However, their usages highlight the difference between ideas regarding social media and social networks. Scuk and Taste of Prague are similar to social networks, as they allow for interaction and create a sense of community. There is also a sense of trust. Taste of Prague is particularly interesting because of its’ “real world” element of interaction. Blogging generates conversation both online and in this case, offline.

    Scuk is also a site that I think would be extremely beneficial in big cities in America because potential customers are being provided with helpful information that is much more reliable than the sources that we currently use on a frequent basis. I would be particularly inclined to use a site such as Scuk in a city like New York where new restaurants, pop-ups, food trucks, etc. are showing up on a constant basis and so many reviews are unhelpful.

    This draws attention to your point about the emergence of mobile-based social media apps. A reliable site for food reviews is great, but it is equally important that people have easy, quick access to the site and can receive updates. Therefore, a site like Scuk might even be more successful in America because of the stronger presence of Twitter. Since we have learned that the Czech Republic is about 2 years behind in trends from the West, I wonder if Twitter will eventually become more popular here. Will this affect the way that blogs and companies interact with customers like how it has in America? I also wonder if a site like Scuk could gain enough popularity via social media that tourists traveling to Prague would know to use the site. If this was the case in cities we visit in Europe, we would not have to rely on sites like Trip Advisor to find good food and may know about some event like the pop-up Dim Sun experience you mentioned that we otherwise would not.

  4. After the discussion we had in class on Thursday about social media and the law this blog posts sparked up some ideas. As a food enthusiastic as many people are in world, Trip Advisor and Yelp are always my go to for finding yummy food in different countries. But after reading your article it has made be second guess those review sites. They in fact give you the essential information you need like the review, menu, and location but not actually the food culture itself.

    Insanely enough there is Facebook group called Yelp Sucks! Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/YELP-Sucks-Businesses-Fight-Back/263402807082326.
    I didn’t realize until now that there literally a Yelp society where groups of people submit their horror stories on this sites. As a solution I believe Yelp should consider instilling some form of verified reviews. It’s all too easy for a competitor or a customer with an overly exaggerated experience to ruin one business. Even a one-star difference could mean a loss of up to 30 percent, and for a small business, that’s murder. Whether Yelp likes it or not, they really do need to establish stricter protocols for what reviews can and cannot be seen. There could also be 2 levels of reviews.Verified and unverified. Unverified would be those not willing to provide documentation or go to arbitration. Yelp can put the unverified under their filtered results. I wondering if having a verified and unverified responses would really change people’s views about Yelp. Do you agree with that idea? Or do you think it would only work in certain circumstances or areas?

    I think it is interesting how the U.S. is more known for scolding individuals for writing bad reviews or making threats so people take down there comments. The Czech Republic seems to have a more sincere social media system that actually tells you the truth about restaurants. Even just opening the Scuk website from your blog post it is very inviting and colorful which makes me fell more engaged then just seeing star reviewed responses. I feel like our society has be inclined to use social media when they travel because otherwise we can’t find anything to do. Especially, our generation is missing out on the feeling of being truly lost and just enjoying the moment. I have a personal experience by that my phone has stopped working and I have decided to not fix it until I get home. It has actually made my last couple of weeks more intimate because I actually have more conversations now with individuals. Also I had to find an office for a doctor appointment and wrote down the directions on a piece of paper instead of using google maps (because I couldn’t). I eventually made it to the office but I also gained knowledge of navigating through a new part of Prague, which was way more satisfying doing it by myself then having google maps lead the way. Here is another article that I found that talks about the do’s and don’ts on social media when you are traveling.
    http://www.socialnomics.net/2015/03/10/social-media-dos-and-don%E2%80%99ts-while-traveling/
    Social media is such a powerful tool that it can either be used for good or harm. This is particularly true when it comes to travel. You want your trip to be the best possible, whether it’s for business or pleasure, and the key to the success of your trip may hinge on your social media use. Using social media responsibly during travel will increase your chances for an excellent trip.

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post and the comments it just highlighted a huge point which is social apps. It is something we us everyday and how it can be successful or bad for the user/company. Learning about other countries successful site or apps is also very interesting to learn what works better.

  5. For the past three months I have been eating out almost every single day. That being said, I have definitely spent most of my money on food this semester. I have been to many great restaurants in Prague and the other cities I’ve had the pleasure to visit in these past few months, and most of these places I have found through blogs or Yelp. When it comes to Prague specifically, my go-to guide has been the food blog Taste of Prague. As you have mentioned on your post this blog is written in English by two Prague locals (who happen to be a couple), with the aim of exposing tourists to the non-touristy version of the Prague food and cultural scene.

    All of their recommendations have so far been magnificent! I recently visited Sansho, a restaurant that according to them is “arguably the best Asian fusion food in Prague.” It truly was an incredible experience, and one that I think I would not have been able to do if it was not for their recommendation. What is also great about this blog is that they sometimes write about non-food related activities, for instance, they have a series of articles called Prague Off the Beaten Path, a sort of neighborhood guide that introduces readers to less visited areas of Prague.

    Taste of Prague has definitely been a life saver these past months; however, when I first got here I did try to use Yelp in order to find restaurants and bars only to find myself reading reviews from other tourists or simply not being able to find much. That was when I realized that Yelp is mainly a website used by Americans, and that even though it could be perfectly used by Czechs (or anyone else in the world for that matter) the ones writing the reviews are mostly from the USA. As much as I love Taste of Prague, it would have been great to find out about Scuk earlier, for I like the idea of reading reviews since it allows for more unbiased recommendations. I think it is interesting how certain websites, like Yelp, simply do not have much of a success in certain countries, yet their local equivalents seem to be very popular!

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