How These Three Startups are Rethinking Restaurants
At Australis, we believe what is worth doing is worth overdoing. For us, this means always improving—by taking a hard look at the status quo and re-imagining how we work, live and eat. As a result, we’ve taken on the challenge of developing better, more resource-efficient and lower-impact fish farms. This disruptor mindset—looking at the world not only as it is but also what it can be—draws us to companies and individuals who are changing their own industries for the better.
In the last decade or so, restaurants have become labs of food experimentation and reflections of culture—more so than in the past. It’s been said that we’re in the midst of a restaurant revolution, which means almost anything is possible. At a recent Food + Tech Connect event, “Rethinking Restaurants,” we came across three exciting startups that are taking innovation in the restaurant space to a whole new level.
Turning empty restaurants into co-working spaces.
The Opportunity: Restaurants that are closed from 9am to 5pm, before dinner service starts, are missing out on generating revenue as their spaces sit empty. Additionally, it’s estimated that by 2020 half of the U.S. workforce will be independent workers resulting in an increase in demand for coworking spaces.
How They Seized It: Putting empty restaurants to use as coworking spaces. Members pay a monthly fee that gets them access to all restaurants locations in Spacious’s growing network during the hours of 9am to 5pm. Each location offers free wifi, unlimited coffee, and community. The restaurant benefits, too, by bringing in revenue during the hours it’s closed to the public.
The Key to Success: Staying flexible and minimizing the impact on the restaurant. Recognizing that private buyouts are an important revenue stream for restaurants, owners and managers need the option to take their space off the Spacious network at any time. Additionally, come 5pm when a restaurant is filled with people (working), the question arises of what to do with them. One option: open a little earlier just for Spacious members.
Enabling people to enjoy a restaurant experience who don’t have the time to wait.
The Opportunity: Very few working professionals have the time to actually sit down at a restaurant and eat lunch—but they’d like to in order to have a real break in their day and eat a decent meal (with real silverware). Alternately, restaurants are hungry for a bigger lunch crowd and quicker table turnover.
How They Seized It: An app (and a Facebook Messenger chat bot) that enables you to pre-order what you’d like to eat at a proper restaurant so that it’s ready when you sit down and prepay, reducing the time commitment of dining out during lunch without compromising on the experience.
The Key to Success: Onboarding new restaurants. Such an operation requires training restaurants to work with Allset’s software to make sure reservations and orders are executed seamlessly.
Food delivery by the culinary geniuses at Momofuku, a successful restaurant and media empire led by Chef David Chang.
The Opportunity: The team at Ando set out to answer the question of, “If Momofuku decided to make food delivery part of its core business, what would that look like?”
How They Seized It: Fast food 2.0. High-quality (and delicious) food designed for delivery, executed with speed and efficiency—and that only tastes better with time. For example, take the Ando’s cheesesteak sandwich (currently, its most popular item. The pickles are packaged on the side to prevent sogginess and the carefully altered pH of the cheese sauce prevents it from soaking into the bread.
The Key to Success: Scaling carefully. Almost anything the Momofuku team does get a lot of attention, and in order to be able to successfully accommodate demand and deliver on the company’s vision. They started small by restricting orders, limiting inventory and are ramping up strategically.
If you are the kind of person who’s into new ideas and ventures, we want to hear from you! What types of companies blow your mind? Share in the comments below.