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Editor’s Note: In September we announced that Skift was expanding into food and drink with the addition of the Chefs+Tech weekly newsletter.
We see this as a natural expansion of the Skift umbrella, bringing the big picture view on the future of dining out, being fanatically focused on the guest experience, and at the intersection of marketing and tech.
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Uber Tackles the Whole Restaurant Guide Thing
Sure — it follows that a company who spends a whole lot of time bringing us to and front hither and yonder restaurant meal would have a helluva lot of data about where we dine out. Enough to create a useful guide? Jury’s still out — but Uber doesn’t seem to think so. The mother-of-all ride-sharing apps recently announced that they’ll not only be dropping you out front of dinner but giving you suggestions for where to drop the pin in the first place. The Uber guides work by culling destination data in 12 U.S. cities at launch, categorizing suggestions and offering filtered search by popularity, trend and occasion. Take your girlfriend here!
Everyone else seems to! Techcrunch called the guides “a Michelin for the data-driven age” but the extent to which crowd-sourced information about drop off frequency can actually influence dining preferences is yet to be determined. As Michael Kinsley astutely observed in his September Vanity Fair piece, “All is not data,” and, as we recently learned from the president elect’s widely unpredicted victory, sometimes the numbers lie. Also unclear as to whether Uber wants us all to make a gametime decision about where to nosh whilst choosing where to ride, as presumably one has a destination in mind to begin with. If they can convince us all to turn to a single app to pick a restaurant, grab a cab — hats off to them — but entrusting that decision to an algorithm of the uber-calling masses feels like, well, a stretch. Their number one restaurant in NYC at present? Vandal. Every heard of it? Us either. Google tells us it’s a major NYE destination. You do the math.
You’ve Booked a Place to Stay—Now Airbnb Wants to Be Your Travel Agent
It was only a matter of time before Airbnb took their “Live there” brand conceit to new heights. From the company who offers you the opportunity to rest your head in spots as diverse as an airstream in Venice Beach and TKTK [insert crazy Airbnb here], one would expect recommendations for how to piece together the rest of your travel.
Hell, we all thought of this app ages ago, but Airbnb is, fortunately for them, perfectly positioned to pull it all together, so the company has launched trips, committing to bringing your full belong-anywhere experience to life. With restaurant reservations powered by Resy and the un-tour approach to entering the extremely saturated tours and activities business (you know—have a firsthand lesson in Korean embroidery and the like), let’s just say we are bullish on these guys, especially when they introduce the eat your way around the world at all the Chef’s Table restaurants one. I mean, how could they not.
A New App That Pays You to Recommend Restaurants
You say Zagat? We say, so nineties. Behold Atlis: a new crowdsourced resource for gathering intel on restaurants from paid reviewers who are happy to answer your early Sunday morning inquiry about just where to grab brunch (assuming you live in NY, as that’s the only place the app’s rolled out yet.) Just as OpenTable offers points for writing a review — though their exact value will forever elude their devoted diner base — Atlis pays you a healthy five bucks direct through PayPal for every recommendation.
We’ve long despised the Yelp-happy philosophy of every man has his voice, as it not only can prove incredibly detrimental to the restaurant industry to have random critics who have never actually dined at the establishment libeling it all over the internet (note: Yelp reviews are unverified and the company reserves the right to alter and change what’s written). Perhaps this culled and curated content app is the answer to letting the people speak when it comes to restaurant criticism, dethroning the ever-hallowed newspaper critic whose every word determined the outcome of a restaurant’s future by swaying the masses one way or another. Either way, we’re willing to give it a try, seeing as Google’s business team has tapped it as one of ten promising high-growth companies and they’ve raised two mil thus far. Bring it on, San Francisco.
Robots Servers Less Popular Here than Elsewhere
All right, people. We are a wee behind. We may have drones who shoot wedding videos and delivery start ups out the wazoo, but when it comes to robots who take your order, international markets far outpace the U.S. in tech-based food ordering. Yes, there is Eatsa, which seems to give us all a midday jolt of the Jetsons, but overall Americans continue to rely on the non-human server, opting for the human interaction at the counter, table, and drive-thru.
Much Needed Post-Thanksgiving / Pre-Holiday Digestifs:
- Sommelier? Ganjier? Really? Same diff. Let the weed puns begin — California and Massachusetts legalize pot and chefs go nuts. What else is new.
- Step aside Jiro, Japan crushes international records for number of national Michelin stars… by a lot. To Tokyo! Who’s with me?!
- Go behind the scenes at Clover Lab in their pursuit to plant veggie fast casual in beantown and beyond.
- That age old question of how the devil you deliver a burger rears its ugly head in the UK — here’s the scoop.