Restaurants Use Apps to Make Big Bucks Serving Nothing

Restaurants Use Apps to Make Big Bucks Serving Nothing

Restaurants have long suffered from slim margins and too-often empty dining rooms. So tech companies are stepping in to match those empty seats with needy customers looking for something other than a bite to eat. As the “New York Post” reports, people are now able to use phone apps to rent out restaurant dining rooms, coat-check areas, and even bathrooms, providing operators with some easy extra cash.

Apps like Luluapp, which will connect those in desperate need of a restroom with the nearest available restroom, for a fee. The app says it has already signed up more than 100 New York restaurants and bars ahead of its summer launch. Users can pay anywhere between 99 cents and $5 for a restroom and restaurants receive 65% of the fee.

Bagbnb is a Rome-based luggage storage startup that works with bars and restaurants across the globe to rent out coat checks so vistors can leave their bags behind while roaming the city.

The app splits its $6, per-bag fee with restaurants and has expanded by offering commissions to tour operators, Airbnb hosts and hotels for suggesting its services to their lodgers.

A Penn Station restaurant, Pennsylvania 6, pulls in about $2,000 a month from storing people’s bags for a few hours or for the day, according to manager Chelsea Feldcher. She adds that about 25 percent of those customers end up grabbing a drink or meal at the eatery before they catch their train.

And KettleSpace, a six-month-old startup, has inked about half a dozen deals with restaurants and bars to open their dining rooms to freelancers and entrepreneurs during the off hours. It charges its laptop-toting clientele from $25 for 10 hours to $99 a month for unlimited access to use the restaurant spaces, where free coffee, snacks, and meals are sometimes part of the deal. By comparison, WeWork’s least expensive plan in New York costs $220 a month. 

“It’s newfound money for us,” said nightclub owner Ravi Patel, whose Hotel Chantelle recently opened up its rooftop lounge — and its retractable roof — to KettleSpace workers.

“This has the potential to reach $3,000 to $5,000 a week for us, which could slash my rent by up to 30 percent,” Patel said.

Read more about how these apps are increasing restaurant revenue at “New York Post.”

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Why Some Casual Dining Chains Are Testing Delivery-Only Restaurants

Why Some Casual Dining Chains Are Testing Delivery-Only Restaurants

Restaurant chains like Outback Steakhouse and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers are turning some locations into “restaurant pods,” or kitchens dedicated to create order for delivery only.

Red Robin’s vice president of innovation, Jason Rusk, cites increasing labor costs as the main reason behind the move. The casual dining chain currently has one location in Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue that has been converted into a commissary to test out the delivery-only facility concept.

“Labor costs across the country are going up, and that’s clearly putting pressure on all restaurants… Ideally, we’d like to go into low-rent warehouse spaces with our delivery concept,” Rusk told the “New York Post.”

Bloomin’ Brands, owner of Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill, opened its second delivery-only restaurant in Florida this month offering a combined menu of the two restaurant concepts. The company plans to open three more delivery-only restaurants in the same state by early 2018.

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Another Sexual Harassment Case in the Restaurant Industry Exposed

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Another sexual harassment claim against a celebrity chef came to light earlier this month.

This time it was against Todd English, the chef behind The Plaza Hotel’s Food Hall and best known for his TV show Food Trip with Todd English, on PBS.

Recent claims have surfaced accusing English of sexually harassing one of his employees— Gabrielle Eubank.

Eubank claims it wasn’t just English, but also other staff members of the Plaza Hotel Food Hall. Her claims against English, however, are not the first ones. There is an existing sexual harassment lawsuit, which had been filed back in August, by former and current English employees.

As reported by “The New York Post,” “ 'Female employees [at the Food Hall] are forced to endure a culture of a different type — rape culture,' the court document reads, going on to detail how male staffers are sexually suggestive with pens, cucumbers, and bananas…”

Other chefs have also been singled out for sexual harassment claims, like Julian Medina from Toloache and Abe Hiroki from EN Japanese Brasserie. Both lawsuits have reportedly settled, according to “The New York Post.”

The news come after Chef John Besh stepped down as CEO of his namesake restaurant group after 25 female workers claimed they felt sexually harassed by the owners and managers of the organization, as Foodable reported in October.

Read more at “The New York Post”