Guest Blog Post
by Dylan Chadwick
One question haunts us each day, clouding our minds, distracting us, and putting us into varying states of distress as we seek the answer: “What will I eat for lunch?” If it seems like a simple question, it’s not. It’s upheld the most basic underpinnings of civilization and our insatiable need for quality food drives numerous industries like agriculture and the booming food and beverage industry. The restaurant industry grew 4% in 2013, driven mostly by growth in “casual segment” according to data from Statista. What’s the “casual segment?” An article by Forbes magazine describes it as a concept positioned somewhere in the intermediary between “fast food restaurants and casual dining.” Brands like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Breads and Shake Shack, recently valued at $1.6B ahead of an IPO, dominate this casual dining segment, and the restaurant-goer dollar.
This new segment of the restaurant industry is primed for engagement with Millennials due to their social marketing efficiency, and developers have taken notice. In keeping with the millennial drive for instant gratification and convenience, a number of tools for fine-dining enthusiasts and dyed-in-the-wool foodies, built to assist in their quest to answer the burning question posited above. Here are the 5 best apps for restaurant goers:
Yelp is the top tool for restaurant goers. With food culture’s high dependency on reviews and ratings, Yelp’s crowdsourced dining counsel serves as a primary source of direction for diners as they explore new venues in their specific locales. Yelp’s API is also used by other apps and blogs alike, producing a robust, verified community of genuine foodies.
The resurgence of neighborhoods, better known as the “hyperlocal” phenomenon, has helped to bring restaurant goers back to their local eateries and away from big brands like Friday’s. No tool has better captured this migration than Urbanspoon. Users can browse categories by cuisine, feature and most importantly, neighborhood. Urbanspoon serves up highly descriptive profiles of restaurants in and around the user’s selected neighborhood. Don’t see a restaurant you’re looking for? Click the “Add Restaurant” button and submit your addition.
Sometimes casual dining can be a bit more formal and requires you to make reservations. Opentable is an online and mobile reservation suite that enables users the ability to make reservations at exclusive restaurants. If plans change, users can modify their reservations by signing into their Opentable profile or accessing the reservation link sent directly to their e-mail. Restaurant hosts can also use Opentable to contact users about deals, specials and changes in their availability.
Zagat is sourced by respected food journalists, attributed in publications of record around the world, and globally recognized as a thought leader in the restaurant industry. Their app encompasses the same qualities, matching their expert ratings with user-created content. Zagat users can browse through an area’s offerings, view menus, and most importantly, filter their choices according to Zagat’s features: food, decor, service and cost. The user sets the threshold for the dining experience he or she wants to enjoy and can rely on Zagat’s brand as an established dining advisor.
Quick bites and casual dining can be slow and subpar. Long lines at Chipotle during lunch hours, haphazard cooks at your local deli, and catering managers can turn what should be a relaxing lunch break into a frenzied race to grab food, shovel it down, and get back to work. Grubhub alleviates this rush, allowing users to circumvent long lines by ordering via the app, for free. They can also make catering orders for large groups when needed, and opt to have food delivered when available. Grubhub makes fast food a little bit faster.
Looking to quell that quivering in your gut? Fire up any one of these apps to get you on your way to primo cuisine in no time!
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