Nomwell's Origin Story

Before moving to Chicago, Ryan and his wife, Claudia, crossed off a big item from their bucket list: backpacking around Southeast Asia on a shoestring budget. Each new city brought with it a slough of amazing new restaurants (Oh, the pho! Oh, the pad thai!!). They knew of a few friends that would be visiting the same cities soon after, so they decided to keep track of which restaurants their friends should go to and which to avoid. Like many others, they’ve never been excited to write reviews the whole world can read, and they found a lack of online options to easily keep track of restaurant recommendations. So they started a text document on their blog. And... they stopped after half of the cities, because updating it manually was a pain.

A few months later, Ryan and his wife found themselves in the opposite position. They had moved to Chicago and were pumped to explore its formidable food scene, but they had no reliable recommendations! Instead, they performed hours of research online all the while trying to interpret which reviews were genuine – and built up their list of restaurants in a notes app. But yet again, what a pain to use! No sorting. No mapping. No tagging. And no better option?

The big a-ha moment came when Ryan wanted to do something special for Claudia’s birthday. He knew the second-year students at his graduate school would have tried-and-true spots they loved, so he asked them online. The recommendations flooded in! So many good ideas! Being a nerd and a pay-it-forward type, Ryan spent an hour putting the recommendations and their information into a Google Sheet, as well as making a complementary Google Map of pins (again, nerd), and shared both back with the school. These recommendation documents spread like wildfire! (And were still not very user-friendly.)

He sat back and thought: all we want to do is share the places we love and know what places are loved by the people we trust. There should be an easy, fun way to do that.

Enter Nomwell.

Nomwell was born from two things: the love of giving and receiving reliable restaurant recommendations, and the awesomeness of having all those recommendations in one, useful tool. (And for the two-thirds of restaurant-lovers that keep a list in a notes app or spreadsheet, we clearly feel for you. We made the auto-import feature just for you.)

P.S. And for the romantics-at-heart? Ryan surprised Claudia on her birthday with a Lake Michigan sunset cruise, fondue at Geja’s Cafe, and cocktails at Violet Hour. Swoon.