Bread & Ink - Breakfast by eyeliam on Flickr.
Aren’t you hungry? Damn right you are. Super close up of the food shows texture. Helps make the image real and attractive.

Bread & Ink - Breakfast by eyeliam on Flickr.

Aren’t you hungry? Damn right you are. Super close up of the food shows texture. Helps make the image real and attractive.

Greater Winnipeg Central Business District Restaurants Amusements and Dwelling Units (1948) by Manitoba Historical Maps on Flickr.1948 map of “Restaurants and Amusements” in Greater Winnepeg

Greater Winnipeg Central Business District Restaurants Amusements and Dwelling Units (1948) by Manitoba Historical Maps on Flickr.

1948 map of “Restaurants and Amusements” in Greater Winnepeg


Ecommerce Hackathon

The story of New York’s tech scene is laced with ecommerce success. From Doubleclick serving ads to Seamless serving food to Gilt, Birchbox, Rent the Runway, Fab, Warby Parker… New York is a transactional town.

In this grand tradition, on August 4-5 Etsy and Dwolla are organizing an ecommerce hackathon. is sponsoring with some other amazing companies- Twilio, Zappos, Busted Tees, Sincerely, Stripe, Kiip… you get the idea.  Awesome tech, awesome people, awesome chance to build something that makes real money.

Anyone who knows knows we <3 hackathons. But when you combine pure hacker hustle with money, big things can happen. It makes our API sing with joy. 

Register and start dreaming of your hack turning into the next Etsy. It can happen- this is New York


How Restaurants Should Work With Their Web Designers

Many restaurants hire professional designers to build their website, but hiring a professional doesn’t guarantee a great result.

We talked to Jill Parks, Creative Director of Savannah design firm Sans Sheriff for tips on what to do (and not do) to give you the best chance of getting an amazing restaurant website that works for you and your customers.

Before you build your website

  • Picking a designer. Website design is a collaborative process. A great portfolio is a must, but you have trust and communicate with them. 
  • Know your message.  Help your designer by telling them what’s most important to you. Online ordering? Reservations? Your menu? Your famous chef? This will provide the designer with an organizing principle.
  • Invest in quality images. It rarely works to “sit there with a regular ‘ol camera and take food pictures,” says Jill. You are selling food; the food should look tasty. A good designer will have an unbiased, educated eye for what photos work best.

During the build

  • Be upfront about what you want. Having examples of websites you like will help focus design discussions set appropriate expectations up front.
  • Listen to the designer. It should be “a collaboration…a give and take,” says Jill. but remember that just as “the restaurant is the expert on food, the designer is the the expert [on web design].” Trust is key.

After you launch

  • Track site analytics. There are free tools your designer can give you so you know what your customers do on your website- what pages they see, buttons they click, etc. The data you get from analytics will tell you if you built the right site.
  • Update your website. Check-in every few months to make sure the site is working for you and your customers. Just like you review the menu with your chef, review the analytics with your designer. You must have a way to update site content yourself or budget updates from your designer.

A website is often the first experience a customer has with your restaurant. You should take building and maintaining it seriously. If you use a designer, use one you like, trust and respect. You’ll get a lot more out of working with them.


Dos and don’ts of your restaurant website.


Jillison Parks is Creative Director of Sans Sheriff Studio, multimedia designer and creative consultant with over fifteen years of experience in graphic design, technical writing and information management. She recently designed websites for Angel’s BBQ, Papillote and the Moon River Brewing Company.


New Developer Tools- Woot!

Developers rejoice! just released v2.0 of our API wrappers, making it easier than ever to build an food ordering app. Brand new Python, Ruby and NodeJS packages plus a PHP library. All available for your coding pleasure.

Changes include a lot of debugging, enhanced documentation, and new schema to make them more easily interoperable. Angels weep! Special shout our to interns Michael Lumish and Jason Teplitz for their great work.

And please send us your feedback. As always we’d love to hear from you.


Get the Right Data to Manage your Restaurant Effectively

Let me guess: You have a full house, you think you’re making money for your restaurant. Diners are cleaning their plates, you think you have your customer base under control. Your servers are pulling in the big tips, you assume you have a successful staff.  All of this might be true – or it might not. Using these metrics to run your restaurant means you’re missing key facts to help you make smart decisions for your restaurant.

Do customers recommend your restaurant? Word of mouth recommendations tell you so much more about your customer cultivation efforts than a clean plate. Your consistently full house? It doesn’t mean you’re maximizing profit per turn.  And tip percent? You are measuring how much your staff earn, but not how much your staff are earning for you.

Successfully tracking restaurant operations metrics like guest satisfaction, profitability and server performance means putting in place a data capture and reporting system — not a hard integration but one that does require work. Sadly, few independent restaurants bother.

If your POS isn’t helpful, try services like GuestMetrics and Avero. Or see how much help OpenTable or other restaurant-specific CRM tools might be. There are no excuses for ignoring key metrics to help manage your restaurant!

Every restaurant needs a loyalty tracking system that tells you how likely your customers are to recommend you and how often they dine with you. You should also know the gross margin per item and have tactics to promote high margin items. And you definitely should track your servers’ success in driving high revenue, high margin turns in addition to tip percent.

If you know these numbers you’ll make smart decisions for your restaurant based on the right metrics. 


The Infographic: Foursquare in the Big Apple


Foursquare Use in New York Restaurants

We’re pretty much data fanatics at It’s a calling. We finally decided to put our data nerd-dom to good use: Check out our first infographic, Foursquare in the Big Apple. Over one month, we tracked checkins, new visits and tips at 618 NYC restaurants using the Foursquare venues API. And when the data was in, we turned it over to the ever talented Susie Forbath, our design intern.

The process gleaned some useful and sometimes surprising information to help restaurants better understand their Foursquare customer base.

Some key takeaways

  • NYC restaurants receive on average 9 check ins from Foursquare users each day.
  • On average, Manhattan restaurants get more Foursquare check ins each week than the other four NYC boroughs combined.
  • 61% of Foursquare check ins on Saturdays in NYC are from new customers; and Monday-Wednesday is slow for checkins but heavily from loyal, repeat customers.

You can see the Foursquare infographic and the full dataset. We’d love to hear your reactions in the comments below. And if anyone at Foursquare wants to give us access to the firehose… Jus’ saying.

Most intimidating soda fountain. Ever.

Most intimidating soda fountain. Ever.


Three Metrics to Beat Sales Fatigue for Restaurant Operators

We talk to many restaurant operators. All of them are suffering from sales pitch fatigue. The steady flood of daily deals solicitations, loyalty program offerings, and social/local/mobile ad listing opportunities has taken a terrible toll. The problem is that there are some pretty good services on the market; tools that can really help a restaurant attract, engage, and retain customers. The key is moving quickly to separate the worthwhile from the worthless.

There are three numbers every restaurant operator should know cold. In combination, these three numbers make for fast and fairly accurate assessments. Adopt this quick analysis technique for restaurant sales tool decisionmaking, and I bet 95% of sales pitches can be cut off in 5 minutes or less. The three metrics are:

  1. Trial Volume (the number of new customers generated by a program)
  2. Retention rate (percent of new customers who become loyal) 
  3. Frequency of purchase (number of times a loyal customer dines with you)

Since you already know your gross margin per customer (right?) and you can apply your sniff test to the sale person’s assumptions, you can easily compute the value of a program.

Gross Margin x Trial Volume x Retention rate x Frequency of spend.

If this number looks great relative to the program cost and other things you can do, you have a winner. If not, move along fast.