Now You Can Buy Insanely Cheap Restaurant Leftovers Using an App

The concept of food waste usually conjures images of servers removing half-eaten meals from diners’ tables and chucking the remains of the meal into the trash. There is, however, a completely separate type of restaurant food waste: the untouched edibles thrown out of the kitchen. Maybe someone ordered too many avocados, or the chef made more soup than there are diners to eat it. Whatever it may be, a lot of perfectly edible food is going to waste, and more and more see this as a big problem.

food waste the spoon screenchow

Solving that problem is the inspiration behind Too Good to Go, an app that functions a lot like Seamless, where you can buy back unused food from local restaurants at majorly discounted prices.

Through the app, a user selects the restaurant and purchases an order. From there, you just need to show up at the restaurant before closing time, where you’re given a takeaway box and can fill it with as much food as you care to. (I should clarify that restaurants sell unused food from the kitchen, not the scraps from diners’ plates.)

Prices range from £2 (roughly $2.59 USD) to £3.80 (about $4.93 USD), and you’re not just getting some third-rate takeout shack’s leftovers. Places like Yo! Sushi and Chop’d have gotten on board, as have supermarkets, buffets, bakeries, and universities.   

“Food waste just seems like one of the dumbest problems we have in the world,” co-founder James Crummie recently saidThe restaurant industry is wasting about 600,000 tonnes of food each year, and in the UK alone there are one million people on emergency food parcels from food banks. Why do we have these two massive social issues that are completely connected, yet there is not much going on to address them?”

That 600,000 tons of food also produces another 200 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, the U.S. wastes enough food annually to fill a college football stadium, and it’s estimated that worldwide, one third of food produced for humans is lost or wasted.

Read more at The Spoon:

TGI Fridays looks to AI for app retention

TGI Fridays is using artificial intelligence to do everything from power chatbots to personalize service at locations. The chain is particularly focused on how AI can keep app (1).png

From May to November 2017, TGI Fridays used “predictive churn” tech to predict when a user would leave the app after signing in, then target users that were likely to leave soon with offers based on their past orders. TGI Fridays sent push notifications encouraging these users to make another purchase. When a user tapped on a push notification, they would be brought into the TGI Fridays app, where they could edit their order and pay with one tap.

“We looked at what and when they ordered and made it super easy for them to re-order at a similar time of day and week,” said James Washington, product manager of digital platforms at TGI Fridays.

It worked. TGI Fridays saw a 65 percent conversion rate when it came to users reordering from the push notification.

“Often brands have massive leaky buckets where they acquire people who download the app, but then never use it,” said Mike Herrick, svp of product and engineering at Urban Airship, which works with TGI Fridays on app retention. “On average, users that opt in to receive notifications have 190 percent greater retention rates than those that don’t opt in.”

TGI Fridays plans on taking the data it gleans from AI and applying it to customer service at its 500-plus restaurants in the U.S. With its app, TGI Fridays can detect when a customer arrives at any of the brand’s 500 U.S. locations. The brand hopes AI can provide more detail that can make the dining experience more personalized, like knowing a guest’s favorite drink and what the occasion is for their visit. That way, a bartender or waiter can be ready to wait on that person, keeping personal preferences in mind.

“Ideally, you go into your local bar, and the bartender knows you,” said Washington. “We want to be able to serve you at the same level.”

TGI Fridays is also using AI to generate the best responses for its Twitter and Facebook chatbots as well as its Amazon Alexa voice skill. Right now, said Washington, users can only ask specific questions like “Alexa, where is the nearest TGI Fridays?”

Read more at Digiday:

No End in Sight for Innovation in the World of Food Delivery

Commerce’s path, from mall-based retail foot traffic to the ‘90s bloated iteration of digital shopping leading to Amazon’s far-reaching store-to-door tentacles, may appear to have taken a circumventurous route. The exact opposite is true. From the early days of the web to today’s AI/VR-powered shop-on-voice command, the value proposition remains the same—convenience.


The major change from clunky versions of e/t/m/d-commerce (electronic, TV, mobile, digital) to a more transparent experience results from a focus on partnerships and a more realistic view of the value chain. Amazon, as an example, understands that it cannot alone drive the future of purchasing goods and services; the Seattle-based giant has amassed an array of teammates from grocery chains to CPG manufacturers to department stores with Alexa-powered kiosks. There was a time, not so long ago, when Apple, Amazon, Google, and Apple wanted to own every building block from manufacturing to consumer products. Time and a lot of failed experiments had led to more realistic aspirations in the world of commerce.

Grocery delivery is a case in point. Early 2018 points to some dramatic changes in the world of home shopping. Players in the space—big and small–are breaking the meal journey down to micro inflection points to hit consumers when they are taking actions (or inactions, as the case may be) where ordering fresh food and pantry staples are likely to take place. For example, the term “shoppable recipes” is especially buzzy as it refers to turning the passive act of reading a recipe into an actionable event. Companies such as Chicory, Fexy, Serious Eats, Amazon, and Kroeger are using technology to allow home cooks to order ingredients in real time for a given recipe while scanning the step-by-step process of making tonight’s dinner.

Another key inflection point in the meal journey is the delivery process with a focus on the delivery of groceries (and other items) to residences when no one is home to accept packages. Amazon’s 2017 announcement of its Amazon Key at-home product/service raised significant skepticism but “homeowner not present” delivery services are gaining traction in the new year. With an understanding that in successful partnerships each party does what it’s best at, lock maker August (owner by lock giant Assa Alboy) is expanding its August Access delivery service which allows delivery to homes where the owner is away. Teaming up with Deliv, a UPS-backed delivery startup, grocers (using the Deliv Fresh service) and other retailers can securely open the front door of a home to drop off a package.

“Through this unique partnership, we are bringing a bit of magic to the shopping experience,” said Daphne Carmeli, CEO of Deliv, in a statement. “Deliv provides the last mile fulfillment solution for a broad retailer network across the country while August Home supplies the technology to take the final step into the home for a totally seamless experience, start to finish.”

Read more at The Spoon:

Uber Eats acquires David Chang’s food delivery startup Ando

Ando, the delivery-only restaurant started by David Chang last year, has been acquired by Uber Eats, according to TechCrunch. The startup will cease delivery of its gooey cheesesteak sandwiches and crunchy chicken fingers in New York City (its only service location) as it begins to merge with the ride-hail giant’s food delivery service.


“Starting Jan 22nd, 2018, we will no longer be serving customers in New York — online or via our Union Square location — as we will be immediately starting to integrate with Uber Eats,” a notice on Ando’s homepage reads. “To all our customers, thank you for inviting us into your homes and offices. You were as much a part of this company as all of us, and it was a pleasure serving each of you.”

Ando’s merger with Uber Eats is relatively unsurprising. The startup has deep ties with the ride-hail company, beyond just using its courier service, Uber Rush, for delivery. Ando’s was designed by Expa, a San Francisco-based startup lab built by Uber co-founder Garrett Camp. Hooman Radfar, an Expa partner, helped Chang create Ando.

Over the last year, Uber Eats has been a relative bright spot for the troubled ride-hail company. While Uber’s reputation took it on the chin, Uber Eats has prospered under Jason Droege, who runs UberEverything, the portion of the business not focused on ride-hailing. The number of trips by UberEats drivers grew more than 24 times between March 2016 and March 2017, according to a New York Times profile. The food delivery service, which is available in 120 markets around the world, is profitable in 27 of those markets. In some places, UberEats is doing better than its ride-hailing business.

An Uber spokesperson would not offer any details on the integration of Ando into its business. Droege said in a statement, “We are committed to investing in technology that helps consumers, delivery and restaurant partners alike. Ando’s insights will help our restaurant technology team as we work with our restaurant partners to grow their business.”

from The Verge:

Dunkin’ Donuts Mobile Customers Now Get Their Own Drive-Thru Lane

Last week, Dunkin’ Donuts cut the ribbon on its “next-generation concept store” in Quincy, MA. The site will act as a pilot store of sorts, where Dunkin’ can test out new store concepts and branding efforts before deciding to roll the changes out to more locations. The Quincy store opened about a mile away from the original 1948 Dunkin’ Donuts location. 

dunkin donuts the spoon screenchow

Besides dropping the “donuts” from the name out front, the biggest addition to the store is the dedicated drive-thru lane for mobile customers—that is, those who order ahead and pay through the Dunkin’ app.

It’s a potentially huge perk. Theoretically, at least, you could save a lot of time on the way to work by paying with your phone, bypassing half the other customers, and getting to stay in the car the whole time.

It’s also, as some have already suggested, part of a bigger strategy to become a true Starbucks competitor.

The strategy is not entirely new. In 2016, the company began featuring drinks like lattes and macchiatos in order to make espresso a bigger part of the business, attract younger customers, and compete with Starbucks. But Dunkin’ isn’t the only chain to have that idea: coffee beverage sales at McDonald’s and Burger King are reportedly taking a toll on afternoon sales at Dunkin’.

Meanwhile, the chain’s mobile program has lagged since its launch in 2016, making up only around 4 percent of the company’s total transactions. As a point of comparison, mobile now accounts for around 30 percent of Starbucks’ overall transactions.

If this increased investment in mobile is any indication, Dunkin’ is serious about catching up to Starbucks and, in the process, beating back competition from McDonald’s and Burger King.

In addition to its increased focus on mobile, the chain’s next-gen store also features a revamped design, bar-like taps pouring nitro- and cold-brew coffee, and several “healthier” snack options (i.e., bananas). The donuts, thankfully, aren’t going anywhere, even if they no longer get billing on the sign outside.

In-store, Dunkin’ on Demand will feature self-ordering kiosks, digital boards that track orders, and a dedicated mobile pickup area.The kiosks are slated for release in 2018. While the company hasn’t explicitly said so, the very idea of a store-as-concept-lab could possibly be another way to emulate Starbucks, who’s been using concept stores to test out new ideas in its home market of Seattle for some time. 

Will all this be enough to put Dunkin’ in true competition with Starbucks, or will it continue to straddle that weird line between coffeeshop and fast-food chain? There will be a lot of logistical pieces to manage, and the chain can’t afford any technological glitches or shortcomings with these changes. But if Dunkin’ can get those two pieces right, continue pouring quality brews, and maybe get a robot or two, it certainly stands a fighting chance.

from The Spoon: