Swiping right is now an option to find a date spot, not just a date: a new app, Feed Me, from Montreal-based journalist turned entrepreneur Amie Watson uses the same swiping approach as dating app Tinder to help users pick restaurants near them.
The app is fairly straightforward: upon opening the app, users will be presented with a restaurant near to their current location. They can tap the restaurant to see more pictures and scroll down to see details and reviews (the pictures and reviews are drawn for Yelp); they can then swipe left to reject the restaurant, or right if they approve. It’s then saved in a favourites section. Rejected restaurants aren’t gone forever — they’ll eventually come back.
Users can also select different filters, showing only restaurants of a specific cuisine, or restaurants that work well for dates (and even break-ups).
According to Watson, the app makes choosing or finding restaurants an easier task — instead of a hungry would-be diner having to actively seek out options, the app presents options, and users only have to say yes or no.
“There wasn’t an easy way to find restaurants nearby, and by easy I mean fun and simple, not so time consuming. I understand people like you and me, we like searching for restaurants and the...hunt a lot of the time. But maybe other people want it to be a shorter and sweeter experience.”
Watson hired two developers, Olivier Collet and Holly Le Heux, who built from scratch. Because Tinder doesn’t have a patent on the swiping mechanism, Feed Me was allowed to replicate it. Around a month after launching, Feed Me is at 12,000 downloads and counting.
Because Feed Me works off how its users react to food or restaurant photos, one could argue that it’s another step towards the Instagram-ification of restaurants. But that’s not the case, says Watson, because Feed Me doesn’t prioritize the most aesthetically pleasing image of a restaurant.
“They’re Yelp photos so they’re not always the best photos. Sometimes the restaurants are putting up photos, sometimes individuals are, and [we] don’t choose which ones come up. So you don’t know if you’re going to get a beauty shot of a burger, or if you’re going to get a half eaten burger…so then it’s real when you get those half-eaten burgers.”
“Some of the photos aren’t even food, they’re inside the restaurant. Sometimes you get a picture of a random person there on their birthday and they’re pointing at a piece of cheesecake with a candle in it. So sometimes it’s kind of hilarious.”
Watson also says that anybody looking to throw down money on a restaurant is probably going to look at the details before making a decision.
“I think once you get lured in by the photo you’re going to read the reviews anyway … it depends how you’re treating the app, is it for fun and to look at food porn? Or am I looking to find a restaurant right away?”
Feed Me is available for iOS and Android, in all 30 countries where Yelp operates (including Canada, the US, Mexico, and beyond).
- Feed Me [Official]