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Grayslake site offers real-time bar ratings on your mobile device
By Anna Marie Kukec | Daily Herald Staff

Rusty Rantz, Carrie Gofron and Randy Rantz run Howsthebar.com, a Web site accessible via mobile devices that gives you a rating of a bar before going inside.

 

Mark Black | Staff Photographer

Rusty Rantz, Carrie Gofron and Randy Rantz run Howsthebar.com, a Web site accessible via mobile devices that gives you a rating of a bar before going inside.

 

Mark Black | Staff Photographer

Grayslake-based Howsthebar. mobi gives you quick access to rating area bars via your mobile device.

 

Mark Black | Staff Photographer

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Published: 2/13/2009 12:02 AM

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So you're driving around with friends on a Saturday night and wonder how that bar is down the street.

Just use your mobile phone or PDA to find out.

Grayslake-based How's the Bar? (www.howsthebar.com) offers users a chance to read in real time about Chicago and suburban bars, rated by other users. It also has thousands of other establishments throughout Illinois and Wisconsin, said site founder and Chief Executive Officer Randy Rantz.

And it all started with a group of his friends, who texted each other to focus more on better establishments.

"About three or four years ago, we would text each other quite a bit to ask where everyone was at or give each other ratings on where we were at," said Rantz of Mundelein.

The texting also helped them avoid barhopping and they eventually felt it could help other people as well.

Rantz, 37, along with his brother Russell "Rusty" Rantz, 29, of Chicago, and friend Carrie Gofron, 29, of Chicago launched the site last November. The site offers the latest technology and includes Howsthebar. mobi for mobile device users along with connections to MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.

Marketing Vice President Gofron leaned on her skills as a former Motorola Inc. engineer to help kick-start the site.

"We worked closely with the Web site developer to make sure they were following the right strategy and had all the newest technology," she said.

Operations Vice President Rusty Rantz felt the idea was good from the start.

"We talked a lot about the site when Randy brought up the idea to me a few years ago," Rusty said.

Users must be age 21 and over to access the site. Qualified users then can register for free and read ratings or provide their own ratings by answering five questions. They involve real-time crowd size, male-to-female ratio, average age, entertainment and drink value. The site also offers other details about a bar, including real-time updates on drink specials.

The site also fosters social networking, helping your circle of friends stay in touch to see what they think of places they are currently at or will meet at later. The site also can let bands know what an establishment is like or gives bar owners some insight on what patrons think.

Word-of-mouth has already helped the free site get 800 registered users and it garners about 25,000 page views a month, said Randy.

"Our plan is to finish all the Midwestern states and then go to New York or Los Angeles with the intention of becoming nationwide by the end of the year," Randy said.