4.27.2016: Foursquare Predictions / Ingredients and Ethics / Uber Eats


Foursquare Predicts Chipotle’s Revenue

If you want proof of concept that Foursquare’s data can be applied to real-world, money-making situations, here it is: Foursquare analyzed foot traffic at Chipotle locations, and predicted, following the chain’s food contamination issues, that Q1 earnings would be down 30 percent. Chipotle released its earnings report yesterday, and Foursquare was right on the money.

I like to geek out over the volume of data that Foursquare has voluntarily collected from its users and I’m always excited when that data is applied in interesting ways. This is a prime example. 


No More “Instant Delivery” from UberEats NYC

Even internet darlings are subject to the forces of nature (or, big cities, as it were.) Just a few weeks after the New York launch of UberEats delivery service, Uber ended its “instant delivery” lunch service, which promised to deliver food in as little as 10 minutes. 

GrubStreet has the details of this change, including the logistical challenges something like promised super-fast restaurant delivery in New York City could face. (I mean… have you tried to cross town quickly?) For its part, Uber hasn’t really confirmed why the service ended, and UberEats in its basic form is still alive and well in New York (incidentally, instant delivery is still available in other cities Uber services.) Kudos to Uber for recognizing weakness, though — and willingness to adapt the product to each individual market it serves. 


JBF Broadcast and Journalism Awards

On Tuesday night, the James Beard Foundation announced winners in the Broadcast and Journalism categories. Of particular C+T interest: Lucky Peach wins best food blog, and in the humor category, Instagram account @Freshcutgardenhose, full of original and sweet humorous cartoons, takes the honor. (Full list of winners here.)



Science and Ingredients and Ethics and Transparency

At this year’s SXSW, I sat on a panel discussing ingredient sensors and what it might mean for restaurants. (Full recording here if you’re interested.) It’s a fascinating topic and something that we’re going to continue to hear a lot about. Food sensors, now in the hands of consumers, can test for all sorts of things (gluten, dairy, nutrition.) But they can also test food DNA (if you’re feeling adventurous, ask me about the data from DNA tests of pre-packaged hot dogs!) 

This brings me to a recent expose from Florida concerning the very popular farm-to-table trend. A reporter spent a lot of time and energy researching ingredients from restaurants who claimed to source food locally. (Not all of it was done by testing; a lot of it was just good reporting.) But what the Tampa Bay Times restaurant critic uncovered is pretty amazing. She found that a whole lot of restaurants in the area were outright lying about the provenance of its meat and produce. Instead of local fish, they were serving frozen items from China. Instead of locally-raised pork, they were purchasing from large scale food suppliers. The piece is long, but it is so worth a read. (There’s also a ton of related follow-up, including a list of restaurants investigated and exact findings. )

What does this have to do with restaurant tech? It’s another story about transparency. I want to believe people are inherently good, just like I want to believe that the people who are writing restaurant menus aren’t blatantly lying. First: if someone is lying, word can spread, fast. I will not be surprised if reporters from other cities follow suit here; I hope they do. Second: DNA testing food is a thing! Right now it’s a thing that is done in a lab, but it’s really a matter of time until the consumer is going to be able to figure out if something is raised locally or not. This feels like a technology-driven cultural shift: understanding exactly where your food comes from and holding those who serve it to you accountable for correct information. Fascinating stuff. 



Parts Unknown is Back, with Great Associated Medium Posts

This is your yearly reminder that my favorite show is back on Sunday nights, with accompanying commentary in the form of Medium posts and tweets from host Anthony Bourdain & co. They do the immersive media experience thing so well. 


  • On using big data to transform unfamiliar foods into new recipes — Food+Tech Connect
  • Fast food restaurants on Reddit tell us what NOT to order at their restaurants — Esquire
  • OpenTable for restaurants: there’s a new Guest Center iPhone app to manage your business from anywhere — Open for Business

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