Skip to main content

Can the restaurants of the future be good to people?

Can the restaurants of the future be good to people?

Share this story

Hack Week Badge

As part of Verge Hack Week, we've invited great minds from around Vox Media to contribute their thoughts on the future of everything — from food to fashion to the written word. In this installment, we welcome Eater editor-in-chief Amanda Kludt.

The future of the restaurant industry — if all the startups and venture firms have their way — will be devoid of inefficiencies. Apps like Foursquare, Yelp, and many others aim to improve discovery, getting diners to the food they want when and where they want it. A swath of apps and sites — OpenTable, SeatMe, City Eats, Resy, Zurvu, and more — are battling for dominance in for paid and unpaid reservations with a good deal of venture money on the line. Priceline-owned OpenTable is getting into the payment game, and serious investors are also backing nascent payment apps, including Cover and Settle. Meanwhile a Chicago restaurateur hopes to change the model entirely with a new offering called Tickets which (among other features) treats restaurant reservations like concerts or theater — pay in advance in full, and pay more for premium times and seats. Others are finding ways to share Big Brother-style diner intelligence, providing restaurants with data on diners from nut aversions to anniversary dates, seat preference, and average wine spends. Behind the scenes, various services offer to connect farmers to restaurants, wine suppliers to sommeliers, and cut out other annoyances of the notoriously inefficient supply chain.

Health care, a higher minimum wage, maternity leave, paid sick leave, equity, and educational opportunities

In the near future, these new companies will battle for dominance, some will win out, and some may eventually offer cost savings to restaurateurs and time savings to consumers.

Or they may just "solve" a host of non-problems.

What would be a better but less-likely future involves a very different kind of change. It would be a future where the great thinkers and financiers in the field work not to make someone’s wait time shorter but to make restaurant workers’ lives better. It would be a future where a career in the restaurant industry — from the low end chains to the high end tasting menu palaces — is respectable and dignified. That would mean health care, a higher minimum wage, maternity leave, paid sick leave, equity, and educational opportunities. It would be a future where the industry is divorced from tipping culture and the subminimum wage, where servers don’t wildly outearn chefs.

And there is no easy fix to get from here to that future. Restaurants run on razor thin margins, and financing any of the above programs would require massive price increases for consumers (which some consumers have already seen with new surcharges), a rethinking of the business model, and a change in attitudes from management, workers, and diners. When faced with a forced paid sick leave law many New York restaurateurs balked, saying they would have to cut down on labor and increase prices. Many Seattle restaurateurs legitimately worry the new $15 minimum wage law will bankrupt them.

Yet a fairer future is possible. A kickass pizza delivery app is more likely, but the more important change is still possible. It will just require some influential leaders, thinkers, and doers to take some creative first steps.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 12:00 AM UTC Dimorphos didn’t even see it coming

R
Twitter
Richard Lawler12:00 AM UTC
A direct strike at 14,000 mph.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) scored a hit on the asteroid Dimorphos, but as Mary Beth Griggs explains, the real science work is just beginning.

Now planetary scientists will wait to see how the impact changed the asteroid’s orbit, and to download pictures from DART’s LICIACube satellite which had a front-row seat to the crash.


M
The Verge
We’re about an hour away from a space crash.

At 7:14PM ET, a NASA spacecraft is going to smash into an asteroid! Coverage of the collision — called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test — is now live.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 26
There’s a surprise in the sky tonight.

Jupiter will be about 367 million miles away from Earth this evening. While that may seem like a long way, it’s the closest it’s been to our home planet since 1963.

During this time, Jupiter will be visible to the naked eye (but binoculars can help). You can check where and when you can get a glimpse of the gas giant from this website.


Asian America learns how to hit back

The desperate, confused, righteous campaign to stop Asian hate

Esther WangSep 26
E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 26
Missing classic Mario?

One fan, who goes by the name Metroid Mike 64 on Twitter, just built a full-on 2D Mario game inside Super Mario Maker 2 complete with 40 levels and eight worlds.

Looking at the gameplay shared on Twitter is enough to make me want to break out my SNES, or at least buy Super Mario Maker 2 so I can play this epic retro revamp.


R
External Link
Russell BrandomSep 26
The US might still force TikTok into a data security deal with Oracle.

The New York Times says the White House is still working on TikTok’s Trump-era data security deal, which has been in a weird limbo for nearly two years now. The terms are basically the same: Oracle plays babysitter but the app doesn’t get banned. Maybe it will happen now, though?


R
Youtube
Richard LawlerSep 26
Don’t miss this dive into Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio flick.

Andrew Webster and Charles Pulliam-Moore covered Netflix’s Tudum reveals (yes, it’s going to keep using that brand name) over the weekend as the streamer showed off things that haven’t been canceled yet.

Beyond The Way of the Househusband season two news and timing information about two The Witcher projects, you should make time for this incredible behind-the-scenes video showing the process of making Pinocchio.


R
External Link
Russell BrandomSep 26
Edward Snowden has been granted Russian citizenship.

The NSA whistleblower has been living in Russia for the 9 years — first as a refugee, then on a series of temporary residency permits. He applied for Russian citizenship in November 2020, but has said he won’t renounce his status as a U.S. citizen.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 26
Netflix’s gaming bet gets even bigger.

Even though fewer than one percent of Netflix subscribers have tried its mobile games, Netflix just opened up another studio in Finland after acquiring the Helsinki-based Next Games earlier this year.

The former vice president of Zynga Games, Marko Lastikka, will serve as the studio director. His track record includes working on SimCity BuildIt for EA and FarmVille 3.


A
External Link
Vietnam’s EV aspirant is giving big Potemkin village vibes

Idle equipment, absent workers, deserted villages, an empty swimming pool. VinFast is Vietnam’s answer to Tesla, with the goal of making 1 million EVs in the next 5-6 years to sell to customers US, Canada and Europe. With these lofty goals, the company invited a bunch of social media influencers, as well as some auto journalists, on a “a four-day, multicity extravaganza” that seemed more weird than convincing, according to Bloomberg.


J
James VincentSep 26
Today, 39 years ago, the world didn’t end.

And it’s thanks to one man: Stanislav Petrov, a USSR military officer who, on September 26th, 1983, took the decision not to launch a retaliatory nuclear attack against the US. Petrov correctly guessed that satellite readings showing inbound nukes were faulty, and so likely saved the world from nuclear war. As journalist Tom Chivers put it on Twitter, “Happy Stanislav Petrov Day to those who celebrate!” Read more about Petrov’s life here.


Soviet Colonel who prevented 1983 nuclear response
Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images
J
The Verge
James VincentSep 26
Deepfakes were made for Disney.

You might have seen the news this weekend that the voice of James Earl Jones is being cloned using AI so his performance as Darth Vader in Star Wars can live on forever.

Reading the story, it struck me how perfect deepfakes are for Disney — a company that profits from original characters, fans' nostalgia, and an uncanny ability to twist copyright law to its liking. And now, with deepfakes, Disney’s most iconic performances will live on forever, ensuring the magic never dies.


E
External Link
Hurricane Fiona ratcheted up tensions about crypto bros in Puerto Rico.

“An official emergency has been declared, which means in the tax program, your physical presence time is suspended,” a crypto investor posted on TikTok. “So I am headed out of the island.” Perhaps predictably, locals are furious.


R
The Verge
Richard LawlerSep 26
Teen hacking suspect linked to GTA 6 leak and Uber security breach charged in London.

City of London police tweeted Saturday that the teenager arrested on suspicion of hacking has been charged with “two counts of breach of bail conditions and two counts of computer misuse.”

They haven’t confirmed any connection with the GTA 6 leak or Uber hack, but the details line up with those incidents, as well as a suspect arrested this spring for the Lapsus$ breaches.