by Gwen Allen
As if a night out on the town isn’t simple enough, along comes technology that actually makes it easier.
Rather than struggle with the â€œWhere to goâ€ question, bar hoppers can now, visit Howsthebar.com, and with the click of a button find the price, crowd and atmosphere they seek.
Sick of wasting his time and money at the wrong venues, Randy Rantz, owner of Howsthebar.com, said for years he and his friends have used their mobile phones as a way to update each other while they are out bar hopping.
Howsthebar.com lets users rate local bars by these five categories.
â€œWe would text each other on the crowds (if there were more guys or girls), drink specials and covers, because there is no way to get this information until you are already there,â€ Rantz said. â€œSo I figured why can’t we do something like this for thousands of people rather than just our small group of friends.â€
After two and a half years of planning, Howsthebar.com launch-ed its official site in November 2008. With most of the coverage currently in Chicago, Rantz said he hopes to have all of Illinois and Wisconsin up and running in the next couple weeks.
Using the site is simple, after completing a free online registration, users can â€œNet Bar Hopâ€ by first choosing a location. Then users can view the average crowd size, gender ratio, average age, drink value and entertainment for that particular location. There may also be live reports from others members who are currently at the bar of choice.
Rantz said the free membership also includes a user profile to meet other people and live alerts that let users know their friends are bar hopping and their location.
â€œWe are currently the only live bar rating website, some others give reviews, but now with mobile technology, our users can interact while they are out,â€ Rantz said.
In only three months, he said the site has proven popular with more than 28,000 members currently enrolled.
â€œ(It) is great, but the more people that use it the better, because it’s more beneficial when you have more people (to offer ratings),â€ Rantz said. â€œWe are really excited about expanding, especially into the college towns where we think this will be extremely popular.â€
Though most users are between the ages of 21 and their early 30s (users must be 21 to enter the site), he said the site is useful to most anyone seeking a night out on the town.
â€œ… I’m not married, but I’m getting older so I don’t go out like I used to,â€ Rantz said. â€œBut when I do go out it is amazing how useful this is, because you have to deal with cab fairs, cover charges, energy and time to get to the bars, so when you’re not happy â€¦ it just helps and it doesn’t cost anything.â€
In an effort to keep it simple, Rantz said there is also a video tutorial on the site to help users get started. It just couldn’t get any easier.