The restaurant industry has seen only a relative few game-changers over the past hundred years. The invention of the hamburger. Drive-in restaurants. Fast food. But there has been precious little innovation Since Ray Kroc put up his first Golden Arches – until now.
The changes in the industry today revolve around consumer mobile apps. What started out with basic delivery apps that showed menus and relayed orders, has today evolved into something much more sophisticated, going far beyond that first wave of GrubHubs and DoorDashes, and as is often the case in the digital world, the early winners don’t stay winners for long unless their first wave of innovations continue to innovate.
So who’s going to eat GrubHub’s lunch? There’s a second wave of mobile restaurant apps that are now doing things these early innovators never imagined. As one might expect, the demand for these innovations is fueled by hungry millennials, who according to a recent UBS study, are ordering food for delivery and takeout much more frequently.
Those millennials are looking for convenience, and what started as a shift from phone ordering to online ordering has grown exponentially and gained sophistication to meet the expectation of these digital natives.
A San Francisco-based startup called Tyme Commerce is adding a new level of convenience to old-fashioned restaurant takeaway. Rather than a simple ordering app, Tyme presents a digital food concierge named Emily, who knows your preferences and favorites, and like any good digital concierge, even knows what time you usually order coffee on your way to work every day – and Emily knows just how you like it. Emily also remembers your preferences, so if you always want your sandwiches without onions, she will order “no onions” for you every time.
What’s even more unique are the TakeTech lockers – little insulated modular lockers used by the restaurants to hold your order. When you arrive, you use the Tyme app to unlock your locker, get your order, and go. Tyme Commerce founder and CEO Bobby Marhamat said, “Our goal with the Tyme app is to create an intelligent app that saves you time, with a digital concierge that knows what you like, and with the TakeTech locker, streamlines your whole ordering experience and never leaves you waiting.”
Initially launching in San Francisco and Palo Alto, Tyme is closing on their first venture round and expects a nationwide rollout over the next few years.
Marhamat, a serial entrepreneur and former COO of Revel Systems, has brought some extreme talent to the table to make Tyme a big success. Recently Marhamat was able to sign TV personality Shervin Roohparvar on to Tyme advisory board. Roohparvar, a restaurant mogul himself, is perhaps best known for his role on Bravo TV’s hit docu-series, Shahs of Sunset.
Marhamat says that Emily is smart enough to help with group orders, too. “If you’re ordering for your family, or for a group at work, Emily can bring together everyone’s preferences, so everyone’s order is customized to their liking. We’ve created the Tyme system to make every aspect of the takeout experience, from placing the order to picking it up, seamless, smart and easy, every time.”
Creators of next-generation ordering systems like Tyme have come to recognize that consumers want more than just the ability to order online – and there is a gold rush to deliver these next-gen apps that offer better speed, more convenience and ease of use, and intelligent interfaces that over time, come to know your favorites like an old friend.
These apps don’t just benefit the consumer – on the restaurant side, it means more business, and in an industry where margins are thin and failures are frequent, that’s important. Tyme also serves the restaurant by gathering data, giving the restaurant better insights into trends – allowing them to better customize their menus and create special promotions. “It’s important for us to provide next-generation benefits to both consumer and restaurant,” said Marhamat. “The Tyme system and the Emily concierge allow for a closer and more personalized connection, and the data the restaurants are able to gather as a result lead to a much better customer experience.”
Tyme is on the cutting edge of a new trend, which we will see increasingly dominating the restaurant world in 2019 as increased levels of intelligent automation take over as digitally-native millennials dominate the market, and demand more apps that make everyday tasks simpler.
Dan Blacharski is editor-in-chief of TheVivant.com.