Posts Tagged ‘tech’

PENPals’ Guide to Social Media Guides for Foodservice Brands, Part 2

June 26, 2012

And we’re BACK with PENPals’ Guide to Social Media Guides for Foodservice Brands — Part 2, our quick collection of treatises that will, we hope, help you stake out your piece of the social media landscape.  We focus even more on the crowd in this edition, in light of new development along the Yelp front, and a major change coming from Twitter.


Your Tweets Are About To Get Longer— Farhad Manjoo, Slate
Twitter is moving into longer-form messages, though not the way you’d expect.  Basically, certain sources will have the opportunity to inject more detailed meta-content into links from their sites, so users who post them can see more about the link before clicking on it.  There is currently something of an application process to be one of those special few brands, but all signs point to this becoming a more important feature in the long-term.


5 Ways to Promote Your Restaurant on Pinterest — Christopher Lower, Above the Buzz
Mr. Lower here provides an excellent overview of the potential value of maintaining an active Pinterest account for your business.  He tends to focus on the SEO benefits, which, while nothing to shrug off, are not the only way of maximizing on your time.  Pinterest is fundamentally an image-based sharing network, allowing companies who produce stunning visuals to easily present themselves to the world.  Sound like a great place for an interactive online menu?  We think so.


Social Media on a Small Business Budget — Liana Evans, ClickZ
A nice overview of how some have managed their resources around a social media campaign, be it a short-lived push or a long-term presence.  If you’re unsure of where to begin, this is a good place to start.
TripAdvisor Aims To Beat Yelp With Social, Revives Restaurant “Local Picks” Facebook App
More competition for Yelp, and another online stockpile of reviews to at least be aware of.  TripAdvisor, usually associated with making travel arrangements and providing an easy way of learning about unfamiliar local offerings, is making a move to capture more of the local market.  What does this mean for you?  Probably not much, but it’s good to be aware that local customers may be seeing more opinions from out-of-towners as they make their dinner plans.


When is it Okay to Write  a Bad Yelp Review?
This blogger considers the many things that customers should take into account before venting spleen on a restaurant’s Yelp page.  Surely most of this won’t be news to those in the food industry, but this may be worth passing around to the staff as a smart refresher of what is at stake when customers feel mishandled.


PENPals’ Guide to Social Media Guides for Foodservice Brands, Part 1

June 19, 2012

Everyone and their sister has written a How-To for Social Media, so in lieu of doing so ourselves, we’ve set out to collect the best resources we’ve found on the topic, with emphasis on using social media as a foodservice brand.  We’ve sought out articles that seem to present the “Golden Thread” of success, and thereby avoid too much contradiction or overlap, though suggestions may vary between any two articles.  Anyway, without further ado, we present to you PENPals’ Guide to Social Media Guides for Foodservice Brands.


How to Use Timeline for Brand Pages: New Feature Details — Josh Constine, TechCrunch
This article popped up right as Facebook was about to make the new Timeline layout mandatory for all business pages.  Instead of going over a whole tutorial-esque introduction to engaging customers on Facebook, try out just this article, which will give you an overview of the features available with Timeline.  You’ve got to know which tools you have before you know what tools to learn more about!


Google+ beefed up with Zagat, which is now free for all — Jeremy C Owens, Mercury News
We posted this story last week, but feel it belongs here as well.  The ever-tighter integration of Zagat reviews with Google+ searches (those aimed specifically at finding local eateries) has implications for patron relationships I’m sure we don’t need to wax poetic over here.


3 Steps to Determine if Social Local Mobile Is Right for Your Business — Jamie Turner, Social Media Examiner
A relatively general primer, more focused on helping you decide if you should even bother with social media (Spoilers: if you’re a restaurant, they say YES). There follows some discussion of how to make your targeted customers comfortable with engaging with you through this new strategy. All-around a good place to start when branching out!

Fund your restaurant via social media? It can be done — Bob Krummert, Restaurant Hospitality
Crowd-sourcing is one of those new buzzwords that seems to be everywhere, leaving business owners, and prospective business owners, wondering where they can get involved with this phenomenon.  The answer may be websites like, which creates an easy link between the project, or restaurant, and donors of any caliber.  Be very aware, though, if the project’s goal amount isn’t reached, the money doesn’t get sent!  With this in mind, however, many have made it work for them.  This article may help you succeed.

What We’re Following: Foodservice Tech Trends, Part 3

June 12, 2012

Well, here we are again with another set of articles bearing technological prophesy for the foodservice industry! Last time we focused on the integration of tablet computers with POS systems of all persuasions, from the traditional to the cutting edge. This time around we’re taking a look at how some restaurants are taking advantage of tech resources to solve the timeless problems associated with growth.

Social Rumblings, Customer Engagement

Google+ beefed up with Zagat, which is now free for all — Jeremy C Owens, Mercury News
Last year, Google bought Zagat.  Now Zagat is integrated even more tightly into your food-related search results on the Internet giant’s social network, Google+, while not to mention also free for everyone on the Zagat website (don’t worry, the little red book will still be sold!).   Whether you’re a restaurant operator or a patron, this means unprecedented access to one of the most highly regarded restaurant review aggregators in the country.  Good food is becoming easier to find than ever before!

Skip Yelp; Text Your Terrible Experience Right to the Restaurant — Suzanne Choney, MSNBC
This service is almost exactly what it sounds like. For participating restaurants, customers are enabled to send anonymous text messages directly to the owners or managers of a restaurant, and the recipient is then able to respond immediately to the concern (as if they didn’t have enough going on!), in the hopes that a speedy resolution will prevent bad reviews on sites like Yelp.

Restaurants using iPad kiosks for customer loyalty —
Trade in that loyalty card for a new tablet!  Engage your customers with some exciting new technology, say these tech start-ups.  To be frank, anyone who lets me play with a tablet computer will always be considered fondly.  Perhaps the same will be true for your customers?

The Shady Side…If you catch my drift..

California restaurants decry ‘Yelp extortion’ — Doug Powell
Concern over a disgruntled citizen’s demand for gift certificate compensation for an alleged bout of food poisoning, at the risk of their leaving a negative Yelp review for the restaurant, has some considering the darker side of social media, and what it could mean for restaurants.  Like any other tool, of course, social media is only as good as those who use it properly.  A few crazy characters out there shouldn’t spoil the party for the rest of us! 🙂

Recap of Mobile Tech and POS from Last Month’s NRA Show

From the Floor: High Tech on the Front Lines — Barney Wolf, QSR Magazine
Contrasting a foodservice convention with one for consumer electronics should be a relatively simple task, notes Mr. Wolf, but now the edges are blurring.  Many of the most prominent features of this year’s NRA show were tech-heavy solutions to age-old problems in the restaurant business.  See what he has to say in this article for QSR Magazine.

What We’re Following: Mobile Marketing Trends (Updated)

May 24, 2012

What does the phrase “Mobile Marketing” mean to you? If you’re not entirely sure, rest assured that neither is the rest of the world.  Whether referring to ads on smartphone apps or an actual dedicated smartphone app, deals given to customers who “Check-In”, or any other method for getting people to make an on-the-fly decision to walk through your doors, this fairly ambiguous term has generated an entire ecosystem of its own, each new player offering what they think is the perfect ‘killer-app’ solution. Here’s a round-up of the big trends we’ve been seeing.

In House Flair

Mobile: What Your Customers are Using — Alicia Kelso,
A brief look at how some brands are starting to slowly integrate mobile into their flow: i.e., texting instead of paging when reservations are ready, on-table card swiping, etc.

Bringing the Restaurant to the Customer

What percentage of restaurants have mobile websites or standard websites? —
A question featured on query-heavy platform Quora, with some surprising ( and well-researched!) answers from other users — according to the study mentioned, only 50% of restaurants have a dedicated website!  It’ll be interesting to see how, and if(!), the rate of integration of digital platforms changes for restaurants in years to come.

GrubHub is bringing restaurant ordering into the 21st century — Rocky Agrawal, Venture Beat
A review of online start-up GrubHub, a service company that attempts to connect restaurants and customers via its mobile app.  This article focuses on a new service that tries to integrate the start-up’s service more conveniently with the normal operation of the restaurant. involves a complimentary Kindle Fire!

Coupons, QR Codes, and Who’s Using Them

NRA Show 2012, IWSB in the Palm of Your Hand — Derrek J Hull, National Restaurant Association
This short article just introduces the NRA’s use of QR codes for the Big Show this year.  QR codes are square-shaped patterns of smaller black and white squares that can be read on smart-phones like a standard bar code, typically launching an app or webpage when the code is read.

Everything you need to know about QR codes — Sara Petersen, Restaurant Hospitality
A very nice, quick rundown of what QR codes are (HINT: QR stands for “Quick Response”!), and how you can make use of them in your restaurant.  This article details some of the best uses for these codes, and what sort of support infrastructure they require.  All-in-all, a very non-scary look at a relatively ambiguous topic.  Enjoy!

How RetailMeNot Could Revolutionize the Coupon Biz for Restaurants, Retailers — Derrek J Hull, National Restaurant Association
The NRA blog takes a look at how the ‘largest online coupon site’ is trying to take the embarrassment out of using online discounts in-store, tying the coupons directly to the customer’s credit card, so the discount is applied automatically at purchase…without the awkward shuffle of papers and nervous confessions.

What We’re Following: Foodservice Tech Trends, Part 2

May 8, 2012

This week we’re taking a closer look at the news surrounding the ever-quickening rate at which tablets are invading the POS environment. The changes enabled by these handy little devices include putting the task of ordering entirely within the hands of the customer, but are surely not limited to that (and it’s still pretty difficult to imagine a world where we don’t expect waiters around every corner!). To help you keep up with the tablet-driven ideas floating around the industry, we’ve collected the most interesting articles here, so you can peruse at your convenience, and see how YOU feel about the future of ordering. Think the iPad will replace the waiter? Let us know in the comments! 🙂

Tech Migrations

PayPal debuts in bars, restaurants with Tabbedout integrationgigaom

New Square device replaces cash register — Jon Swartz, USA TODAY

A Powerful New Ordering Experience

Harbortouch POS Announces iPad Tableside Order SystemTechnorati

Will The iPad And E La Carte’s ‘Presto’ Make Waiters Obsolete? — Bonnie Kavoussi, Huffington Post

At the Restaurant of the Future, This Gadget Takes Your OrderThe Atlantic

Tablets Fight for a Seat at Restaurant Tables — Sarah Kessler, Mashable

What We’re Following: Foodservice Tech Trends, Part 1

May 1, 2012

With the increasing power and availability of highly mobile advanced electronics like tablet computers and smartphones, a trend toward incorporating these devices into the everyday flow of foodservice is rising on the horizon. Their mobile nature allows for unique modes of interaction between customer and server, front-of-house and back. From iPad POS systems to check-ins to mobile ordering, here are some of the stories in the news we’re following. There are so many that we’re going to return for a Part 2 soon to focus on tech in POS exclusively. Add your own in the comments, or let us know what you’ve seen!

For the Staff

POS systems must accommodate new secure payment technology — National Restaurant Association

Three Ways Entrepreneurs Are Using Mobile Commerce to Grow —

For the Customer

Technology Boosts Wine Sales — Amanda Baltazar, Restaurant Management Magazine

Foursquare’s Crowley Aims to Add Recommendations, Discounts — Bloomberg Tech Blog

The Wider Industry

Nanotechnology In Food: FDA Proposes Rules For Monitoring Food Safety — The Huffington Post