10.29.2014: Reserve / Zagat+Social


More Digital Reservations: Reserve Launches

New reservation technology: hot, hot, hot. The latest: Reservelaunched yesterday. Starting in New York, Los Angeles, and Boston (and soon in San Francisco), Reserve acts as a concierge of sorts (that’s the word the company is using to describe the app), partnering with select restaurants to offer reservations, immediate guest recognition upon entering the restaurant, and payment for a $5 fee.

So far, this sounds pretty standard by today’s digital reservation norms. Interestingly, Reserve offers patrons the ability to pay more than set menu prices, with all of that extra cash going to the restaurants. They’ll also charge no-shows a $10-$25 fee, with all of that money going to the restaurant as well. So how is Reserve different than the other reservation- and payment-focused apps? It’s “focused 100 percent on the dining experience,” according to CEO Greg HongMashable even goes so far as to call Reserve “the Uber of restaurants,” which is a kind of strange comparison and seems like a stretch, but I guess they really wanted to hit that they-share-an-investor angle hard.

Regardless (and, I must say, without using the app myself yet), Reserve has put a whole lot of effort into the “concierge” angle, making the app feel like a luxury product, and crafting really nice experiences for people. I am excited to try it and excited to see where it goes.



Zagat Survey Takers, Are You Serious?

In continuing coverage of all things survey, Eater has a great guide to the highlights of this year’s New York City Zagat Survey results. The whole thing is worth a read, but one group of stats in particular stands out for my purposes:

“Regarding cell phone usage: 67 percent of diners said they rarely or never take photos in restaurants, 61 percent said they rarely or never email in restaurants, while 78 percent said they rarely or never use social media in restaurants. Related: Who wants to bet some of these survey takers are lying?”

Eater food critic Ryan Sutton shared the stat on Twitter, inviting some good discussion. I mean, they are lying, right? Or, is Zagat just old and outdated? Or, did they just ask a whole lot of online survey-takers who aren’t the most in-touch with social media? Or (and probably most likely), have we stigmatized phone use so much that people are afraid to admit it less they seem gauche. Finally: I wonder what this stat will look like in San Francisco?



Inside the Whole Foods of the Future

Digital displays, everywhere! That’s the main focus of this Adweek piece on the next generation of Whole Foods stores.
The company’s new flagship location, just outside of Atlanta, offers a glimpse of what we can expect in our grocery shopping future which apparently means social media and screens (surprise!) The store’s cafe features an Instagram feed of six local farms who supply its produce. And a whole lot of touch screens in the store’s cheese and beer and wine sections help customers learn about and differentiate products.

The big deal is that these changes seem small and almost intuitive; of course you should take advantage of being able to learn more about the stuff you’re putting inside your body. They’re an extension of how we’re using screens now, and a great way to insert a little knowledge into the everyday shopping experience. Anything that connects the consumer to the product in a meaningful way is good in my book, so I am pumped to see these sorts of experiences come to life in more stores around the country.



… to Taco Bell, who unveiled a mobile app to order ahead and pick up in store and promoted it with a thorough social media campaign. USAToday maaaybe went a little overboard on its coverage, though. (Also, the Chipotle app has offered the order-ahead option for like five years, but maybe USATodaydoesn’t consider them fast food?)



  • Attention restaurants! Food+Tech connect is offering an awesome restaurant bootcamp and giving 25 restaurants a full scholarship. Apply online to take your restaurant to the next level —Food+Tech Connect
  • The best food-related accounts on Instagram — Eat Magazine
  • Food-tech accessories from Marie Claire. Talk about going mainstream. — Marie Claire
  • Shut up and eat / a foodie repents — The New Yorker


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