Do these dining alternatives spell doom for restaurants?


Technology startups like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb have disrupted the traditional taxi and hotel business models, and in some areas are proving to be stiff competition. Now several startups that operate in major cities around the world are aiming to do the same thing in the restaurant industry.

Killian Fox at The Guardian reports on five different dining apps, each of which offers a slightly different service. One version called EatAbout is akin to old-fashioned supper clubs, linking diners to chefs for private meals in the chef’s home. Once you settle on a date and the number of diners, all that’s left is to work out the menu. Usually this involves a short back-and-forth with the chef to determine the diners’ preferences. Meals are prepaid and you and your friends show up the appointed time for a fine dining experience. It differs from the afore-mentioned supper clubs in that you aren’t dining with strangers; the meals are all private events.

Another option investigated by Fox more closely resembles traditional takeaway. He tried a service called DishNextDoor, which “links you up with talented cooks in your neighbourhood who do everything from their home kitchens. You browse the website for tempting dishes nearby, arrange a collection time (it could be as little as 20 minutes after the order is placed) and pick up a freshly cooked meal from your neighbour’s door.”

These services are still too new to have much impact on restaurants, but some industry experts perceive them as a threat to both sit-down and takeaway establishments. While the apps have advantages over brick-and-mortar businesses, including greater creative freedom and lower costs, restaurants still have a lot to offer diners. They are available to anyone and can provide an ambience not found in a more home-like setting.  Fox, for one, isn’t likely to give up traditional dining any time soon: “I’m too addicted to the buzz of restaurants and sometimes I’d much rather sit among strangers in a public space than know everybody in the room,” he says. 

Have you tried any of these or similar services? What do you think of them?

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One Comment

  • sir_ken_g  on  June 27, 2016

    I think health departments will have plenty to say about this.

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