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Here at The Spoon, we’re up to our elbows in prep-work for the upcoming Restaurant Tech Summit, which is right around the corner (August 17). The daylong virtual event will feature restaurant owners and managers, restaurant tech companies, investors, and many others sharing their thoughts on the digitization of the restaurant biz.
In the meantime, there’s been plenty of news coming out of this sector that hints at what the digital restaurant of the future might look like. Here are a few notable pieces from the last week:
New York City’s commission fee cap gets extended to 2022.
NYC was one of the early cities to invoke a cap on the commission fees third-party delivery services like DoorDash and Grubhub could charge restaurants during the pandemic. The Big Apple currently requires those fees to be capped at 15 percent (normally fees can go up to 30 percent per transaction), and recently announced that lower number will remain in place for the rest of the year and on into next. The legislation was introduced along with four other bills aimed at third-party delivery, including one prohibiting non-partner restaurant listings and one forbidding services to charge for phone orders that didn’t lead to an actual transaction.
All of this is a sign that City regulators are getting more involved with the doings of third-party delivery, which up to now have been largely unregulated and often controversial. San Francisco has already made fee caps permanent, and NYC doing so would further influence other cities. The pattern isn’t unlike the original fee caps introduced at the start of the pandemic: San Francisco was the first city to introduce them at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. NYC quickly followed suite, trailed by most other major cities and dozens of mid-tier ones across the country.
Homebase raises $71M for its restaurant team management platform.
Homebase, a SMB management platform, announced a Series C round of funding last week backed by a boatload of celebrity investors, including Matthew McConaughey and athletes Jrue and Lauren Holiday. The company will use the new funds to develop more digital tools for automating HR and payroll tasks.
While Homebase is not exclusively a restaurant tech platform, its focus on small, local business is beneficial to the thousands of independent restaurants out there that aren’t raking in billions thanks to their robust digital platforms. Homebase’s SaaS platform offers things like a digital schedule builder, a time clock that can integrate with POS systems, and payroll and hiring software. Working together, all of these small tasks have the potential to save time and therefore money, two things indie restaurants could use more of these days.
Bluestone Lane launches a new app for all ordering channels.
A year ago, Austrailian-inspired cafe chain Bluestone Lane was touting its DIY mobile app thrown together quickly in response to the havoc COVID-19 was wreking on the restaurant industry. Fast forward to now, and the company chain has launched a new proprietary app that will process not just takeout orders but also those for dine-in and delivery.
The ability to process orders for off-premises and on-premises meals is unusual in the restaurant biz at the moment. Up to now, most mobile apps have been squarely focused on fulfilling delivery, pickup, and curbside orders — understandably, since those were the only channels available to consumers for more than a year.
But even with dining rooms reopened, mobile ordering’s popularity continues to rise. Eventually, most mobile apps will likely service both off-premises meals and those eaten in the dining room. Bluestone Lane’s recent release gives us a glimpse into how those might function in the future.
DoorDash Expands Its Ghost Kitchen Operation in California – DoorDash Kitchens San Jose will house six different restaurant concepts from both nationally known restaurants and those from the San Francisco Bay Area.
Basil Street Using Equity Crowdfunding to Raise $20M for its Pizza Vending Machines – The pizza vending machine company recently announced that it is raising its Regulation A+ round of financing through equity crowdfunding.