Raleigh entrepreneur Steve Mangano doesn’t want to say it but he’s created the anti-Yelp restaurant app.
Mangano’s new app, CurEat, is designed to help diners find the best bars and restaurants in more than 60 cities across the country. What sets it apart from other mainstream restaurants apps is it only features positive endorsements of independent restaurants and bars; so no negative reviews, no chains are included.
The inspiration for the app, which is now available in the iTunes app store, came first from Mangano wanting to cut through the clutter to find the best places to eat and drink while traveling. Second, Mangano sensed an opportunity based on conversations with those in the restaurant industry, many of whom are anti-Yelp.
“I know how hard it is to put that plate on the table and then to be unfairly rated is frustrating,” Mangano said in an interview last week.
Mangano is a Raleigh entrepreneur and developer who has an undergraduate degree in hospitality management and an MBA from the University of North Carolina. He worked for Hilton Hotels in New York and Miami before starting his own consulting company. He helped bring the 21c Museum Hotel to Durham.
With CurEat, restaurant and bars owners control what photos and information appears about their place within the app. Mangano recruits chefs, bartenders, artisan food makers and those who represent local brands in each city — referred to as CurEaters — who share lists of restaurants where they enjoy dining or drinking.
In the Triangle, some CurEaters include: James Beard-award-winning chef Ashley Christensen, who owns Poole’s Diner and several other restaurants in downtown Raleigh; chef Scott Crawford of Raleigh’s Crawford & Son in Raleigh; Nation Hahn of the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation; and Victor Lytvinenko of Raleigh Denim Workshop.
So if you want to know where Christensen would recommend eating in Nashville or New Orleans or where Fullsteam Brewery’s founder Sean Wilson would suggest drinking in Charleston, S.C., CurEat can tell you.
The app’s most robust information is for the Triangle, given this is where the app’s beta testing started. However, Mangano said, more CurEaters and therefore more endorsements will be rolled out soon in expanding concentric circles from the Triangle, including Asheville, Charlotte, Charleston, S.C., Richmond, Atlanta, Miami, Birmingham and beyond.
Users also can create and share their own lists of favorite restaurants and bars, which are easily be shared via text messages with friends.
The CurEat launch party is 5-7 p.m. Jan. 13 at the 21c Museum Hotel in Durham; proceeds from the event will be donated to the food bank. To attend, please RSVP by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.