Food and drink / Retail

Chito Peppler’s mad dash to index DC’s dishes

Meet the man behind those running monkey signs you've seen on restaurant doors throughout D.C.

Chito Peppler is a foodie and entrepreneur, maybe in that order. (Courtesy photo)
Chito Peppler has seen it all: Hong Kong, Florida, 20 years in the Navy. But there is one thing that never ceases to astound him: “Every day I’m amazed by the growth and the diversity of the [restaurant] options” in the D.C. area, he said.

Peppler is a foodie, technologist and media mogul (kinda) all wrapped in one.
After ending his career in the military, he enrolled in George Washington University’s MBA program. That’s where he developed the model for RUNINOut.
“The concept was to do a search engine on one specific industry,” said Peppler, who was at the time working on a group project with fellow classmates. “The restaurant industry was really kind of taking off.”
His stick-to-itiveness kept the project alive. He launched the website in beta in January 2012, the same year he graduated. Now, you’ll often see the trademark orange monkey-on-the-run sign below or above the Zagat and Yelp stickers collected on D.C.’s restaurant doors.
Peppler, who prefers to ride a bike, has nearly single-handedly indexed about 5,500 restaurants and stores in the DMV, and even Baltimore and Richmond.
Each restaurant is tagged according to its ambiance, clientele and various practical considerations. And there is also a tag for each dish.
There are so many restaurants out there, after all. Things shouldn’t be left up to chance — especially during, say, the FIFA World Cup.
“You’ll be going to the wrong bar because you’re going to the wrong team. They’ll chase you out,” said Peppler.

Peppler admits that the website’s scope is limited by restaurants’ willingness to cooperate and update their listings on a regular basis.
But RUNINOut — a website with no ads — is only one branch of a larger enterprise.
Peppler, who started the company with the goal of achieving a “lifestyle model,” negotiated the relationships he’d developed into marketing, blog writing and even web development gigs for the restaurants. He also organizes regular networking events at restaurants, where free food is usually included.
“I’m not a food blogger,” said Peppler, who lives in Congress Heights and likes to go by “Pepper.” “There are very few restaurants where I live, but that’s okay.”

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