Restaurants: Tweet Your Wait Times
Psst. This is so easy. As exemplified by @dannybowien, daily tweeting of your restaurant’s wait times is seriously awesome customer service. He posts wait times for New York restaurants Mission Chinese and Mission Cantina almost daily — especially so when the wait is extra long or, on the flip side, non-existent.
This is a really, really easy way to inform patrons of wait time without requiring them to make a phone call. (I still do that. Does anyone else still do that?) And it conveys digital savviness to a crowd that expects restaurants to be increasingly digitally savvy. And, while this may seem second-nature to some, it’s often the smallest gestures that net the happiest response.
Tablets and Data at TGI Fridays
If you eat at TGI Fridays, there might be a techy upgrade coming to a restaurant near you. The chain plans to arm its watistaff with tablets at 500 restaurant locations across the country. These tablets will replace the point-of-sale stations we’re all used to seeing around the fast-casual spots, and are, apparently, significantly more efficient.
Sort-of related, Fridays is also taking advantage of all of that customer-supplied check-in data. If a customer checks in at a Fridays location on Swarm, the bartender receives a text message containing their food and drink preferences, plus a photo. That’s a new way of addressing personal customer service, I’d say.
Resy’s Notify Alerts You to Hot Reservations
Resy, one of the new-ish services that allows you to purchase hot restaurant reservations, has added a very useful feature to its product. Notify places you on a waitlist if the restaurant you really want to visit is booked for a specific date and time. This feature lives within the app; instead of being prompted to book a table, you’re prompted to sign up for a notification. If/when a table becomes available, the app alerts you in real time, giving you the opportunity to book.
A New Delivery Startup Focuses on Non-Urban Customers
I can confidently claim that peak food delivery has been achieved in San Francisco and its surrounding communities. I, sitting on my couch, can order any number of meals from healthy to greasy, basic to fancy, at varying stages of done-ness, from a pile of ingredients to a hot meal. Now a new startup with a familiar idea is aiming to bring this to the non-urban-dwelling masses in what I’d consider a smart idea applied to a not-worn-out audience.
Farm Hill, which focuses on meals made with fresh, healthy ingredients, just announced a $1 million raise and its goal: to deliver outside of densely populated cities. (To be fair, this is still Bay Area-based, so it’s not like this is going down on the country roads of Iowa. Still, Farm Hill and similar companies represent a shift in the way we’re consuming “fast” and convenient foods, all made simpler by connected smartphones and the internet. This startup may be a small, small operation in the scheme of the whole country, but the fact that a company is willing to tackle a non-urban market for fresh and fast delivery is an important step in changing the way we all eat on the fly.
Mario Batali Has a New, Interactive Cookbook
Mario Batali just released a new cookbook via iBooks called America Farm to Table. The book isn’t necessarily notable on subject matter alone, but it is notable because it’s an interactive cookbook, full of recipes, techniques, videos, emailable lists, and more. Essentially, it’s like a hybrid of your favorite traditional cookbook and your favorite online recipe site. Add one celebrity chef and, BAM, it’s kind of like a whole new medium of food media. Interesting.
Yelp Is Becoming a Bigger Restaurant Reservation Threat to OpenTable
5 years ago
The biggest challenge for OpenTable competitors has been getting users to download an app or learn about their service. That's clearly not an issue for Yelp. But Yelp has other challenges, namely years of playing the antagonist to restaurants.