Restaurant traditions old enough to merit a Ken Burns mini-series were all but given last rites this week, victims of new requirements for survival in a business that once revered its customs. Consider, for instance, the research finding that tipping might as well contemplate its last meal. And what’s this business of being bluntly candid while talking to investors?
Read on for a dizzying preview of where the industry might be headed after compass readings of the last seven days.
1. Tipping’s tipping point?
Despite the resumption of tipping by several high-profile experimenters with other ways of compensating servers, gratuities are on their way out, suggests a head-spinning research tidbit from American Express. The credit card company found that 18 percent of restaurants have already discontinued tipping—apparently quietly, without all the hoopla that accompanied the switch by marquee names like Danny Meyer or the Ivar’s group. Even more startling: 29 percent plan to drop tipping, according to the survey.
For the math-challenged, that means 47 percent of restaurants are exploring alternate forms of server compensation.
3. OMG! ICYMI, BK is LMFAO
Restaurant apps are so yesterday. This week, Burger King provided a glimpse of order placement in the future, a mashup of social media and messaging that might have Domino’s shaking in fear it’s fallen behind the times. Technophiles are buzzing over the burger chain’s experiment with Messenger, the chat program that allows Facebook users to text back and forth without leaving that environment.
A bot presented as a chat screen takes consumers through the ordering process, displaying the choices via a visual menu that rotates horizontally. Then the patron is given a choice of restaurants where the order can be retrieved, and an option to prepay for the meal online.
You can see it for yourself here.
The home of the Whopper is the latest entrant in a parade of chains turning to social media as the next ordering channel. Domino’s lets frequent customers order a pie by texting an emoji, and Taco Bell is tinkering with a bot integrated into Slack, a chat medium for members of the same company.
Treading on the sneaker market: The other shoe drops
Earlier this week, we reported on Krispy Kreme’s tie-in with a new sneaker from Nike. This week, it’s Starbucks that’s lacing up for a deal with the footwear powerhouse. The newest basketball shoe to come out of the box for Nike is the SB Dunk Low. The sole is Starbucks green, and the uppers are coffee-colored, with white swirls that could be taken as a shots of creamer.
Promotional photos show the shoes positioned in front of Starbucks cups and a pile of beans.
The Starbucks Dunk Lows sell for $100 a pair.