Some of you may be aware of the organization, Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNa). The organization was formerly funded by American Express, and others, and provided anonymous inspections of restaurants: to be recognized by DiRoNa was high praise indeed.
Sometime around 2006 AMEX ceased funding DiRoNa and the organization changed it's business model. Beginning in 2007 inspections would remain anonymous, and the restaurant had to pay a $1,500 inspection fee.
The DiRoNa brand has suffered and I don't think it is long for this world.
There is an obvious conflict between and restaurant which desires a favorable review and an organization which provides such a review, at a price. In the former business model the restaurant under review did not pay a penny for the review and their only cost was to buy an award certificate should they be so inclined. I am uncomfortable knowing that the DiRoNa brand is, essentially, for sale.
This past week the 2009 DiRoNa renewal form showed up in my inbox. There used to be over 800 restaurants listed by DiRoNa (when it was a real award) and less than 300 now that you pay for the inspection, and the quality of those restaurants had decreased significantly. After only a couple seconds of consideration it went into the trash can.
Good bye DiRoNa: it has been nice knowing you.