12.2.2014: Tock / Mobile Payments


Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas’s Ticketing System Has a Name: Tock

First it was a great idea. Then it was a solid Google hire. Now it has a name. Tock, the reservation ticketing system created by Nick Kokonas and Grant Achatz, introduced itself formally in a blog post from Kokonas. He quite eloquently states a principle central to the reasons behind this newsletter:

“The hospitality industry is focused on making customers happy, and every night is ‘show time’. There isn’t time to worry about optimizing software, analyzing seating templates, or figuring out new metrics to measure and improve operations. Our managers spend their time creating great experiences for patrons. It’s like that for all restaurants.”

He continues to explain the idea behind Tock: creating great experiences for both diners and restaurants while optimizing operational elements like food waste and reducing no-shows. It’s getting quite the vote of confidence, too, as big-deal Thomas Keller restaurants French Laundry and Per Se have just signed on to use the system. I’m pretty excited to see how this continues to play out. As a fan of smart and savvy people implementing smart and savvy tech-based solutions to problems, the Tock story should be a good one.


A Comparison of Pay-by-Phone Technology

The pay-with-your-phone movement is gaining steam as more people start to come around to the technology. (I think that this has a lot to do with Apple Pay’s availability at familiar chain restaurants, but that’s a longer story.) As a recent Eater piece points out, these apps and technologies are still relatively new and will probably need to gain critical mass before any sort of major, fundamental change happens to the way we pay for dining out.

The app reviews are just okay (the author’s recommendation: “It’s worth checking out if any of these have restaurants  in your neighborhood.”), but I haven’t seen too much of this anywhere else and it’s a decent look at the space.

Specifics of the apps aside, the interesting part about these technologies is how they will change the dining experience (right? right.). It’s a small change — not having to ask for the check — but it’s a convenient one. And, since they’re still pretty new, you still feel like kind of a rockstar when you use them (sort of how you felt in an Uber four years ago, or when you used in-flight wifi for the first time). That, I think, is the real difference that apps like Cover and companies like Reserve are making, not whether they use Paypal or stored credit cards or some other form of payment tech.


The Professionals Who Market Food on Instagram

Food photos on Instagram: still contentious. But not for these awesome photographers, who have been paid to snap food images as marketing for brands from The Gap to Whole Foods. There isn’t much to read in this article, but it does contain five solid recommendations if food photos on Instagram are your thing (and they should be, these images are quite nice.) This also underscores the importance of good food photography vs. ill-lit images of brown stuff on a plate. You don’t have to be a pro to capture some decently mouthwatering images, but some care and a little bit of composition can go a long way.


  • Resy launched in Los Angeles today — Eater
  • A little inside baseball, but this look at Dinner Lab’s crowdfunding investment strategy is pretty interesting in fundraising terms — Forbes
  • Girl Scouts enter the 21st century, sell cookies online for the first time this year — FastCo Exist
  • Troll or not, this Arby’s + Pepsi commercial is pretty funny — Eater

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