The QISA (pronounced kwee-sa) rating stands for Quality, Innovation, Service, and Ambience. Each element is given a single digit on a one to five scale with three being average, one being exceptionally bad, and five being exceptionally good. By anchoring the scale at a three, I start with the assumption that most of the restaurants I patronize are forgettable, not horribly bad, but not noticeably exceptional either. For me to praise or warn about a restaurant, I need to be nudged in one direction or another.
The QISA elements are:
- Quality, which refers to taste and basic preparation. A 3-rating is average, a 5-rating is exceptionally good, and a 1-rating…well, we’ve all been there and hope to never go back. Note that the Quality refers to only the vegetarian dishes on the menu. An exceptional steak restaurant with a mediocre salad bar is still just mediocre.
- Innovation, which refers to both innovation and creativity. A 5-rating provides me something novel, or at least a completely new take on an old theme. A 1-rating means that I left the restaurant bored with the food.
- Service, which means just that. Most restaurants are 3-rated, meaning that you didn’t notice the service one way or another. If I have to wait too long for my food, they get my order wrong (and don’t correct it), or they are just plain rude, this is going to be a 2- or 1-rating.
- Ambience, which is the atmosphere of the restaurant. A 3-rating suggests that I didn’t notice the ambience one way or the other. A 5-rating was transcendent. A 1-rating was uncomfortable, dirty, loud, or just plain wrong.