So I’ve complied a rough Yelp rating for all the restaurants listed on their website (this isn't everything ARK operates) and came to a rough composite score of 3.13 or 3 stars out of 5 for all restaurants combined. Most of the ark restaurants are 3 or above. I personally prefer places that are 3.5 and up before I go spend my money if I’m looking at places in the area, so obviously there’s some work to be done. The worst performing market by far from a yelp prospective would be in Washington where Sequoia, Thunder Grill and Center Cafe (the other restaurant they just closed also ranked the same) each had a 2.5 respectively. Las Vegas ranked at 3.29 on yelp among all locations listed on their website which is the best out of any market where ARK operates more than one restaurant and had a composite 3.17 in New York.
I was in Washington this last weekend and was planning on visiting one of the DC restaurants but upon yelping them and realizing they only ranked 2.5 each (one even had a review of a mouse running around?) i decided I wouldn't spend my money there much less take my girlfriend. We opted for a mediocre place in DuPont Circle instead. If I'm doing this as a shareholder one has to wonder how many other people are completely bypassing some of ARKs lower performing restaurants.
I wonder if/how management uses theses tools to their advantage to correct deficiences noted by customers. I'd hope someone is paying attention to this. Even a slight improvement in some of these scores could have a dramatic effect on the bottom line especially as more people turn to tools like Yelp and UrbanSpoon to select the next place they are going for dinner.
I don't know that I'd rely on Yelp for investment advice. I know me personally, I only want to post somethign about a restaraunt if something worth saying happens. A mouse running across a floor is news-worthy to most people. I'd wager that most of the happy customers don't rate the resaurant while a higher percentage of raters are dis-satisfied. Given that, anything over 3 stars would be really good considering the bias.
I guess I'd have to compare that to a yelp rating for comparable restaurants that I've dined at...
I wouldn’t rely on it much either. There are a lot of great restaurants though that have 4-4.5 ratings. I can speak from experience that these people comment on them and it is increasingly popular to search for restaurants via urban spoon/yelp etc especially if you don't live in the area. Regardless there is also very good information for management to learn from on there as well with the overall experience of their customers. I know management/the board are all in their older years and just what I’ve gathered it seems these reviews, at least at the moment, aren’t heavily weighted. Again I’m an owner of ARKR and I like it, just something I thought I’d put together out of curiosity. In addition the higher ratings also appear near the top of searches performed on Yelp if you are in the area. While not necessary for business today, it can be a driver of sales if used correctly.
If you want to obtain feedback about the various Ark Restaurants I would recommend looking at the comments at opentable vs yelp. I find those much more realistic.
I have been to many of the restaurants that ARK owns and operates including all of the properties in Washington. The next time you are in Washington I would recommend you try Sequoia. It is a beautiful restaurant with an amazing water view and lots of outdoor seating for when the weather gets nice. This restaurant also does big business for charity events, weddings and other functions so you shouldn't be afraid to bring your girlfriend.
As with any restaurant, not everyone is going to have the perfect food experience that they desire every time, but I have always been satisfied with my trips to various ARK Restaurants in MA, CT, NY and Wash.
While all the online-mobile ratings are good and fine (although one should consider the various biases), just spend time looking at the sales/sq.ft. Its improving. Sales overall are improving. They are opening new locations, and with their concentration in LV, once tourism improves, so too will ARKR. Restaurants have high fixed costs. Once things improve, all the cash goes straight to the bottom line. Just look at historical income.
Furthermore, the CEO is extremely shareholder-centric. He repurchased 7% of shares at $12.50 3 months ago (Up 29% since then) and pays out a current dividend of 6+%. Not sure there is much to dislike here. Maybe I'm a biased shareholder, but I'll be here for awhile.