News and ideas at the intersection of chefs and restaurants + digital and social technology
The Guy Fieri Effect
All press is good press… usually. And when The Food Network calls, how can a small business possibly say no? Restaurant Hospitality details what happens to a small restaurant when the cameras— in this case the cameras that support Food Network star Guy Fieri — show up. What happens? Exactly what you’d think happens: viewers near and far descend on the restaurant to try whatever it is they saw on television. And this doesn’t just apply to the restaurants; specific menu items see instant increases in popularity.
Given the popularity of destination-oriented food shows, “Triple D” isn’t alone in its ability to give a tiny restaurant instant celebrity. “Anthony Bourdain ate here” has become a badge of honor for restaurants both on and off the beaten path; travel basically anywhere in the world and there’s a Bourdain-approved list of restaurants to visit and the on-demand television footage to go with it. There's also a new website to support it, too.
Generally, this interest is great. But it also adds another level of branding complexity. It’s almost not enough to get your business on the radar of a TV star — you might be concerned which TV star associates themselves with your brand. (I’d be wrong not to admit that when Fieri visited my favorite bakery in Paris, Du Pain et Des Idees, I groaned worried at the attention it might bring the standout bakery in the 10th arrondissement.) There are also logistics to consider: higher visibility means longer wait times, higher food costs, and perhaps less loyal customers who are boxed out of a favorite local haunt. Still, it seems sentiments are mainly favorable when the TV crews come to town — but how long until not being featured on a television show becomes the new badge of honor?
And Again: Restaurants Cater to Instagram-Lovers
“Instagrammability” may not be a word, but it’s solidly in restaurant business plans around the world. A Financial Times piece describes how the photo-driven social network has quite literally changed restaurant design in the UK. “If you search on Instagram by London restaurants and food, a lot of beautifully executed shots come up on fine china but you’d be hard pressed to say where they were without looking at the geotags to identify them easily,” says one restaurateur quoted in the piece.
As previously noted in this newsletter, instantly recognizable touches that photograph well and share easily help a restaurant attract the oh-so-important Instagram-loving audience. The piece profiles one restaurateur who just “invested an undisclosed sum in making his restaurant more Instagrammable.” For him that means whiter plates and dishes that look unique and photograph well. People have noticed, he says. The piece continues, describing current restaurant-Instagram trends (millennial pink!) and how they’ve influenced how designers think about creating distinct spaces. Still, it’s scary to consider the tens of thousands of dollars spent revamping a restaurant to look good in a square photograph and how any one of those trends could be a literal flash in the pan.
Is UberEats Leading Restaurant Delivery Expansion?
Where I grew up, I could count on pizza delivery… and that was it. There was no push-of-a-button instant gratification (get off my lawn!) But now, lead by what’s happened in major cities, food delivery from all sorts of restaurants is coming to the suburbs en masse. A piece in the San Diego Tribune explains how, in the southern California city,UberEats’ move to the suburbs is changing the way local restaurants do business.
In short: because Uber has the ability to scale its delivery service so quickly, its competitors (and there are many) are scrambling to look beyond the big cities and into the suburbs for more customers. And, according to the piece, this is causing a “turf war” of sorts as all of the delivery companies race to be the best in any given market. With UberEats leading the charge, as the piece suggests, competitors must hustle to catch up. This likely means competitive pricing and lots of marketing promotions for the consumer, and an increased rate of innovation and development at the companies. The internet has already disrupted food delivery, so I think what we’re waiting for is a disruptor of this disruption — and that company will be the clear winner in a seriously crowded space.
Want Free Nuggets? It Only Takes 18 Million Retweets
One hungry Wendy’s fan is on a quest for a year’s worth of free chicken nuggets, attempting to appeal to 18 million Twitter users for help. @carterjwm tweeted to@Wendys asking how many retweets it would take for the restaurant chain to give him free chicken nuggets for a year. “18 million” was Wendy’s reply. And as of this writing, he’s managed 2.6 million retweets. (Even Wendy’s is surprised!) To be honest, 18 million retweets is probably a stretch goal, even on a platform touting 313 million monthly users. But even if he doesn’t make it to 18 million, there’s another way: T-Mobile CEO John Legere offered him a year’s worth of nuggets if he switched his cell service from AT&T to T-Mobile. And if he does make it to 18 million, United offered him a free flight to any Wendy’s in the world. (Though that was before that, uh, other thing that happened.) Regardless: the power of a single tweet… and a super-strong social media team. Go fast food Twitter!
Get Those "Snaplications" Ready
In continued fast food marketing innovation, McDonalds restaurants in Australia are accepting job applications via Snapchat. Prospective employees are invited to share a 10-second Snapchat video though a special McDonalds-themed lens, which serves as a “preliminary application.” After screening the videos, McDonalds sends applicants a link to the company’s formal hiring application. (The lens also lets applicants add hats and nametags to see what they might look like behind the counter at the fast food chain.)
- Good Eggs has a new plan for food delivery — SF Chronicle
- This image went viral, but 3+ iPads at the service station is real life for restaurants managing multiple delivery services — @cabel on Twitter
- Jay Rayner’s review of Le Cinq in The Guardian is everything — The Guardian