7.29.2014: Charger Course / Reservations


When the Waiter Brings You a Phone Charger

Wow, this is real? At Jose Garces’ restaurant Volver in Philadelphia, a restaurant critic was offered a cell phone charger on a silver platter between courses. Seriously. Apparently, “A lot of people like to Instagram while they’re here, and we wouldn’t want you to run out of power,” according to the waiter. The critic interprets this action as encouraging sharing on social media, but my first reaction is that it sounds like some sort of art project or social statement. Also, do people use it? Because I’d suddenly feel very uncomfortable… almost as if the waiter was calling me out for using my phone during a dinner that runs $500/person. Huh.

illustration by April V. Walters


Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic (who is the best) reports on the history of the restaurant reservation: where they come from, why we use them, and how we’ve arrived at our current pay-for-play quandary.

Rebecca Flint Marx reports on the complicated relationship between chefs and Yelpers in San Francisco Magazine. This is a great piece.


Service I Didn’t Know I Needed: Trippy

I’m currently en vacances in France where I managed to discover my new favorite site. It’s called Trippy and it’s great for planning travel — especially, in my opinion, to find great restaurants at which to dine while traveling. It works a lot like Quora; users ask and answer specific travel-related questions. During the sign-up process, you’re prompted to enter both places you’d like to visit and places you know well (your hometown and places you visit frequently.) Locations are broad (like “Paris”) to super-specific (“Mission District, San Francisco”). This tech isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it is nice to have dedicated space to ask advice when planning your trip versus, say, blasing every one of your Facebook friends and Twitter followers asking for restaurant suggestions. (I am v. guilty of this.)  Of course, this is a natural fit for chefs and restaurants — (my favorite)  Anthony Bourdain gives suggestions, even.


Drones: So Hot Right Now

So this is really happening: drones are going to change the way we eat. At least, that’s what one National Geographicwriter says, with a nod to both food delivery (like a flying pizza guy) and “situational awareness,” or using drones to farm, raise livestock, and manage other large-scale food-related tasks. So what do we have to look forward to? Amazon is seriously trying to get its drone delivery system approved by the FAA, which could mean fast, easy food delivery from a six-pack of beer to just-picked produce. The article provides good context around the current state of drone use and where we’re headed — worth a read if you’re into this technology.


Have We Reached Peak Food Startup Funding?

Probably not, but now that the tech+food space is exploding (yay!) it’s going to take more than a good idea to get funding. A WSJ piece sums up the state of the industry, citing $1.1 billion in food-tech investment worldwide so far this year. It also repeats what we already know: we have reached peak food-delivery startup. (But there’s still plenty of room for new innovation!)


  • French supermarket v. food waste. Awesome, innovative, smart, fun — via @CivilEats
  • On restaurants determining the fate of neighborhoods — CityLab

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