Everything Everywhere All at Once

Food markets have existed around the world for decades - what does tech add and why now?

Somewhere roundabout 2015 there was an explosive interest in international street food markets in America, the UK and Europe. This interest grew and evolved as more exciting new business owners stepped up to the plate. Then Covid hit, but still, the demand was there. It even filled a niche - an open air (safer) land of culinary possibilities to transport you to the places you hadn’t been or at the very least to new tastes. These new venues are fun, casual and there’s so much choice - it's a vibe. But there are drawbacks - queues, being able to actually view all the menus, everyone in your party wanting different things - that’s where tech comes in. 


Who needs tech? - Food markets have been around forever

You might say, in fact, food markets have existed around the world for decades - why would you need tech now? This is true of course, the earliest street food markets date back to ancient Greece but they have certainly evolved, and the fantastic venues we are seeing pop up now are more akin to a mini festival. Yes, people come for the food but they stay for the party! The focus is on the experience, on time spent with friends and family, to experience new flavours from around the world of course but to do it together around a table. 


Ahead of the curve: Dinerama - our first London venue 

Well before Covid we were approached by Street Feast’s Dinerama, a dynamic London street food venue. To paint a picture of the venue, they were one of the first to utilise container units stacking and tetrising them across the site to create two levels of festivity with multiple bars, and a dozen tantalising food options showcasing cuisines from around the world.  A busy venue in the heart of London, with patrons filling the venue shoulder to shoulder and at every seat. What they found though was once the venue was full customers found it hard to reorder, the lines were long and the tills were the bottleneck. 


Beyond the Bottleneck

The management team knew what they wanted for the venue. A way for customers to view the menu of every food vendor in the venue and to be able to order from any of them - going digital made sense. They also knew it was a fast-paced venue and the process couldn’t be long and complicated and tedious, otherwise you might as well line up. We knew that we could deliver that: our system utilises a quick QR scan, with no apps to download and we built the system not for data retention but for speed. We wanted people to be able to order quickly from any or all parts of the venue and to be able to do it all in one simple transaction with the funds directly split and sent to each of the vendors. 


Thinking about the Journey to Table

The next step was to think about the journey the food would take to the table. The team at Dinerama knew that once they settled in the venue their customers wanted to stay at their seats and that there was good business sense in serving them there allowing multiple reorders! They had floor staff already whose job it was to keep the floor clean and clear - was there a way to get these staff to deliver orders also? We knew that there was, and we knew we could deliver a system that would maximise staff potential. First we created unique QR codes for every order point in the venue so that when you ordered from that point staff could pinpoint exactly where you were in the venue - be at a shared long table or perched at one of the bar tables. We then developed our runner system. Utilising a handheld device for each member of the floor staff we created a system where each vendor could send a notification out to the runners when an order was ready to collect and individual runners could respond to the call - almost like an Uber call system for your venue. 


The results - a boost in revenues!

It was a great use of staff that were already onsite and Dinerama saw a real boost in their sales - we knew we were onto something! The management found that people tended to order more (by about 22%) on the digital system - because they had access to all vendor menus at once and they could so easily order without having to queue at each kiosk. They also found that re-ordering was more frequent - why wouldn’t you order another round when it is so easy! Lastly, they felt that they were maximising the efficiency of the runners on the floor, who would deliver food to the tables but also this kept them active and moving throughout the venue to clear and clean.


As the venue grew, we expanded and zoned the menu, making it adapt even more specifically to the space. Stay tuned to learn more about our 'divide and conquer' approach for large and complex venues.