2.11.2014: The New Restaurant Experience


Restaurant Meal Delivery, Curated

Oh look, another restaurant delivery service. Though this one asserts some level of superiority based on its “curated” list of supported restaurants, many of which don’t typically deliver. Meet Caviar.

I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to throw down $20+ for a dinner entree, I’m going to hoof it to the restaurant, sit in a seat, and enjoy all of the experience elements that come with shelling out cash for a well-prepared, well-plated, well-served meal. Notable exceptions: restaurants (like Danny Bowien’s Mission Cantina) that plan to use this service or a similar service) as a primary delivery service. When the product changes from serving the consumer to serving a restaurant, it seems slightly less pretentious. Slightly. Regardless, delivery is delivery is delivery, and I’ll take a nice meal out over the same food delivered to my tiny apartment in a brown paper bag.

illustrated by April V. Walters
illustrated by April V. Walters


Kittens and Kale! Kittens and Kale!

Take two trends, smush them together, and raise money for a good cause: internet gold! That’s the mission ofKittens and Kale, created by a team of artists to raise money for for animal welfare organizations. These printed recipe cards feature beautiful imagery of (guess!) kittens, kale, and useful kale recipes. And $5 from the sale of each goes to charity. The site is well-designd and full of plenty of information about both the featured kittens and featured kale. A writer from Saveur calls it “The smartest mashup of internet trends I’ve ever seen.” Cute, useful, helpful — win!


Groupon + Online Reservations + Discreet Discounts

Grasping for straws, one-time internet darling Groupon now offers select reservations at certain restaurants, accompanied by percentage discount on the tab. That is: reserve your spot at a restaurant through Groupon, dine there, and the server will automatically apply your discount to the final bill. The program started last summer, and has persisted at least this long, so someone must be using it. Not entirely off brand and a reasonable way to discreetly apply the “deal” model to upscale restaurants without having to worry about a voucher, coupon, screenshot, or other way to alert a server that you’d like a discount. The list of available restaurants is… fine. Nothing super exciting or groundbreaking, but if deals are your game then this is a decent option.

I’m especially interested how consumers view this. Does a restaurant that offers a deal or coupon somehow cheapen the overall experience? Is it just a smart reward for planning ahead? Admittedly, I didn’t expect to see this feature last as long as it has, so worth watching this “discreet deals” (that’s a good name for it, right?) space to see what the next wave will bring.


Enter This Sweepstakes, Win… a Reservation

To put a bow on this whole “dining experience” theme going on this week: Recently, I received an email from Sosh — a sort-of digital + real life social network — promoting a sweepstakes where the winner gets… a dinner reservation. Granted, it’s a dinner reservation at a hot restaurant at a prime time on Valentine’s Day, but still. Sweepstakes, on their own, are wild animals. People spend years entering and gaming the system to win stuff. There is an actual yearly sweepstakes convention (in Orlando this year) geared toward those who love to play.

Winning a reservation, though. Interesting because it shows that we, as a dining public (or at least those people who enter), are interested in the dining experience — not just the stuff on the plate. Is that too sociological a view? I’ll say it again: the restaurant as experience movement is more than just a trend — it’s a new way of thinking about dining out.


‘Goat Simulator’ Video Game Is a Thing

…and it’s coming soon. Be the goat.


  • Zagat Singles videos for food industry singles. Hilarious. — Zagat
  • SF’s AltaCA: the Google bus of restaurants — SF Chron
  • More fun with Yelp defamation lawsuits — Eater
  • Not sure if this is good or bad: robots programmed to taste-test beer (instead of trained humans!) —NPR

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