From the purchase of ingredients to food waste disposal, from dining room management to big data aimed at improving the profitability of a venue: food start-ups that have fine tuned services and apps dedicated to restaurateurs are particularly flourishing.
Here are some examples taken from different contexts.
Farm to (restaurant) table
As well in the consumer market, restaurateurs have also been brought closer to farmers to give them access to healthy, locally grown, quality certified products. With this aim in mind, companies have been set up to operate in the online marketplace.
Alongside recently founded, consolidated businesses in the US of more or less recent foundation (Veritable, Zone 7) this technology-empowered approach is also rapidly expanding also in Asia: in China with Meicai (which means “buy vegetables”), in Japan with Planet Table and in India with Crop Connect. Their aim is to exploit technology to gather requests from restaurateurs and to supply them with produce grown by farmers in their area.
Fine dining delivery
The delivery of cooked meals directly to the consumer is one of the most sought-after sectors of the Internet of Food: even some highly acclaimed restaurateurs have chosen to address this market and to offer a top notch gourmet experience, not only in their venues but also at home.
The most recent example of this trend is Ando, the start-up from David Chang, the internationally renowned chef and heart and soul of the Momofuku restaurant, operating in some areas of New York. Chang is the protagonist of another food delivery experience recently launched in New York, Maple: in this instance, a network of skilled chefs present new menus every day on a rotating basis and prepare them for a Manhattan clientele who receive them at home. Their motto is to offer quality meals that are never boring.
Reservations and orders
Online reservations - one of the earliest IoF services to be made available - interests both restaurateurs and consumers, but the former often can obtain a lot of useful statistical informations from the same reservation platform to improve their business (see Big data paragraph below). To quote some examples: from OpenTable to Reservewhich is operating in 7 large American cities exclusively with up-market restaurants, to which it also supplies important information regarding the category of client, who can book through a website or an app.
The service provided by Allset is aimed at eliminating restaurant waiting times: the customer reserves a table, orders from the menu and pays directly through the app or via Facebook. When they arrive at the restaurant, they’re shown to the table and served immediately. Software programmes like Qminder manage the waiting list and provides interesting statistics to restaurateurs. Others, such as Ziosk – possibly the best known service for restaurants in the tablet category – enable clients to place their order at the table and send it straight to the kitchen, and even to pay the check without having to await the arrival of staff.
One of the most interesting spheres of the Internet of Food regards the collection and analysis of millions of pieces of data that, when taken as a whole, can supply useful pointers to the food business. Food Genius, for example, collects and analyses menus, prices, customer types etc.: all the data from hundreds of thousands of restaurants worldwide. The restaurateur consulting them can learn, for instance, which dishes ‘work’ in which areas and at what price, and in this way can perfect products and services.
Another example is BevSpot which offers bars, and other venues an online catalogue of cocktails and beverages that are always available along with the possibility to check that their own cocktail list is in line with consumer tastes in a particular geographical area.
At the end of every day, restaurants throw away a lot of food: this is not only wasteful but also a disposal problem. Various companies now offer intelligent tools to deal with it. These include the British company Winnowwhich has invented a sensor and touch screen system connected to each waste bin on the premises to monitor quantities and types of “waste”. This helps the restaurateur to understand which ingredients are wasted the most and to correct purchasing quantities accordingly.
In Finland, ResQ focuses on the food that is cooked but not served. Its platform connects potential customers who wish to buy the food prepared in excess with reductions of up to 60%.
Dal is one of those recipes that goes all the way back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. Unlike dishes such as biryani, brought to India by the Moghuls, it is one of those foods that has always been there. It is therefore a building block of Indian culture.