2.18.2014: Bitcoin / Burger Lessons


Dinner’s on Bitcoin

You can now pay for dinner (or lemonade, or a beer) with bitcoin. The of-the-moment currency is becoming accepted at a variety of food spots — from a Subway in Pennsylvania to a pub in Sydney to a food truck in D.C. Prices reflect the real-time value of Bitcoin (a 12-inch toasted turkey on wheat might set you back the equivalent of $5 today, but make the restaurant the equivalent of $10 tomorrow thanks to the fluctuating bitcoin valuation.

Vendors quoted in the piece enjoy being on the forefront of this (relatively) new tech, excited to participate in something different. A former bitcoin skeptic myself, it’s interesting to watch the very beginnings of mass adoption. I don’t know that this could ever change the industry or even add a ton of innovation, but it’s kind of cool to learn about.


Life Lessons from this Hamburger

illustration by April V. Walters
illustration by April V. Walters

Awesome idea alert: The Message Is Medium-Rare, a fun project from a San Francisco-based design agency. The premise: looking for inspiration in unexpected places. In this case, looking for inspiration through eating a burger a week, and sharing their learnings. Lessons come in the form of a recap of the eating experience, then associated thoughtful life lesson. As you’d expect from a group of designers, the site design and associated photographs look great. Bonus: they’re only on week six! That means 46 new burgers and lessons to come. Bookmark this site.


No Food Photos in France

Ah, the ebb and flow of the cultural relativity of food photos. At first, they were quirky and fun (I confess, I maintained a Flickr set of my own for a spell), then they were everywhere, and now they’re moving somewhere close to taboo. And a likely group is leading the charge: the French. (Of course they are.)

Apparently, restaurants in France are starting to ban amateur food photography for reasons you’d expect (it’s disruptive, time-wasting, and just silly), but also for other, more serious-sounding reasons. Food photos take away “a little bit of my intellectual property,” explains one French chef. And, rightly: “It’s hard to build a memorable evening when flashes are flying every six minutes,” says New York’s David Bouley.

Still, the problem here isn’t the photos themselves. (IMHO, this is one of those it’s-your-movie moments. If you want a food photo, take the food photo.) The problem is the way people are taking the photos. Flashes. Moving candles around the table for appropriate lighting. Standing up. Styling the plate. Walking around the table. All things that are fairly disruptive in a nice restaurant setting. I’m guessing the restaurant’s beef lies mostly with customer behavior, not the photos they produce.

(For the record, C+T still endorses leaving food photos to the pros. No more plates of brown mush!)


Behind Yelp’s New Business Pages

A UI designer at Yelp recently penned a deep-dive into the site’s new business pages. The post contains an impressive level of detail and thoughtfulness; talking through design decisions and where they came from —  “honoring the content and the context.” The “new” Yelp looks a whole lot like Facebook, and seems to take most of its cues from mobile design. Larger photos are a nice touch, too.

But (disclaimer, I am not a designer or researcher, I just write the words), does any of this redesign help to put emphasis where emphasis is due? A successful content-plus-context model sounds great, and fair — but I’m concerned this latest move is just giving the self-righteous a louder, brighter platform. (Or maybe I’m just a Yelp H8er. Also possible.)


Order Fast Food via Mobile App

In its latest effort to completely digitize all human interaction, the powers that be behind mobile food ordering at Taco Bell now allow customers to order via mobile application. The app is apparently two years in the making (srsly?), and is fresh off a round of testing in the O.C. Chipotle already has one of these. So does Pizza Hut. And McDonalds and Chik-fil-a will soon launch their own versions. Apparently the Taco Bell app transmits location data to the restaurant, so they know exactly when to start cooking/thawing/microwaving that chalupa. Progress.


  • Loving the International Association of Culinary Professionals Digital Awards finalist list (bottom of the post) — Eater
  • On detailing what people are eating as an element of character as they’re being interviewed by lifestyle journalists — NYT
  • Woohoo! It’s another food delivery startup in SF! — Spoonrocket

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