Editor’s Note: In September we announced that Skift was expanding into food and drink with the addition of the Chefs+Tech weekly newsletter.

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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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Dine? Shop? Same Diff

On the heels of the recent closing of Eataly’s Flatiron restaurants (for revamp or permanently, TBD), Eater published a piece discussing the uptick in restaurants that house themselves inside grocery stores. It’s actually a pretty interesting trend: From all day cafés like cooler-than-cool Gjusta in Venice or the much-lauded Tartine Manufactory in SF (the list goes on), it’s clear that the model where you dine, shop, muse, meander, and ogle bicep-y bakers covered in flour as they pull giant levains out of the oven is here to stay.

Whole Foods, however, is leading the charge (as per usual) across the country, with glorified food halls that include a wide array of cuisines, from a Kano sushi bar to a Frankie’s Spuntino location at its newest location in New York, specifically. According to Eater, data supports the claim: “revenue for prepared food service at supermarkets grew an average of 10 percent a year from 2005 to 2015, according to Technomic Inc., a research and consulting group.” Just make sure to bring a puffer when you go for date night in the frozen food section is all we’re sayin’.

Americans Are Eating Out a Lot Less, and It’s Hurting Restaurants

Fortune reported on the recent Reuters data — a poll of more than 4,200 U.S. adults from Jan. 14 to 25 who claim to be eating out less often than three months ago. Of those polled, 62 percent cite cost as the issue. “There’s more splintering of the food dollar, and the pie isn’t growing,” said Bob Goldin in the piece, partner and cofounder of food industry strategy firm Pentallect Inc. “Where you spend has changed more than the amount you spend.” Whether it’s the advent of the meal-kit or the increasing dichotomy between fast casual and fine dining, the middle of the road — you and me looking for a bite on a Wednesday — are looking for new options and it may mean death to the neighborhood restaurant. Minimum wage is rising. Rents are rising. Diners are slowing. And let’s not forget what “pundits” are saying about what automation can do for the restaurant industry, of all levels. You do the math.

Yelp Acquires Waitlist Company Nowait for $40 Million in Cash

If you happen to have lingered in the dusty back yard of Sonoma’s Fremont Diner as you wait for your chicken and waffle brunch of late, you are familiar with Nowait, a restaurant tech company that manages online waitlists for those spots that, well, need them. In a logical move for Yelp Reservations, the company just brought Nowait into the fold with an acquisition positioned to compete with other booking services and their abilities to help a restaurant manage its house. Basically, remember those awkward black buzzers you used to wander around the mall with while you waited for a table at, dare we say, Cheesecake Factory? Now they’re on your phone. It’s about time.

Digestifs:

  • An interesting read about the unexpected effects of Starbuck’s 10,000 immigrants policy on its brand image… it’s not what you think.
  • The Food52 Lifestyle Experience. Read about how it works from a financial standpoint.
  • Finally something to get excited about in the delivery space — this start up is training refugees to cook the cuisines of their homelands for hungry, ethnic-food crazed New Yorkers.
  • Because it wouldn’t be a C+T in recent memory if we didn’t wonder what the heck is cookin’ at the White House these days.
  • Author of new book The Underground Culinary Tour: How the New Metrics of Today’s Top Restaurants Are Transforming How America Eats talks to local NPR and it’s worth a listen.
  • Those 3D pizza-printing machines are making money.

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Photo Credit: Sushi Kano, pictured, inside a Whole Foods in New York, is another entry in the growing field of U.S. "grocerants." Sushi Kano