How Bluedot, Wingstop, Brightloom, ChowNow, and other dining innovators are pioneering new ways to reach customers.
March 8, 2022
By Yasmin Gagne
Explore the full 2022 list of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, 528 organizations whose efforts are reshaping their businesses, industries, and the broader culture. We’ve selected the firms making the biggest impact with their initiatives across 52 categories, including the most innovative food, media, and retail companies.
Over the past couple of years, the restaurant industry was forced to innovate at warp speed to maintain customers amid a global pandemic that stopped indoor dining in its tracks. Many of these innovations are now maturing—and companies are continuing to add even more new features. One such company is Bluedot, a location technology startup that helps restaurants, including chains like McDonald’s and KFC, offer curbside pickup and reduce wait times for customers. This year, it actually made the wait for food fun by incorporating games similar to Pokémon Go that leverage AR technology to bring customers’ surroundings alive. Brightloom, founded by Adam Brotman, former Starbucks EVP of global retail operations, is also helping restaurants woo diners by analyzing their customers’ behavior and developing insights into what they want. Texas chain Wingstop doubled down on its delivery strategy, inking an exclusive deal with DoorDash and opening ghost kitchens to fulfill orders. And delivery platform ChowNow launched the Order Better Network, which makes restaurant menus available across social platforms like Snapchat, helping eateries reach even more customers.
At the same time, there are organizations working to alleviate the pressures put on restaurant workers by these new technologies. Los Deliveristas Unidos was started by delivery workers in New York City who are seeking better protections—and basic rights such as bathroom breaks—while contracting for delivery companies. California-based startup Everytable, meanwhile, is also committed to social change. It makes healthy food more accessible by charging different prices for its offerings depending on the median income of the neighborhoods where its restaurant outposts are based. Read on for the full list of this year’s best dining innovators.
For helping restaurants keep more money on deliveries
Food-ordering platform ChowNow, which competes with DoorDash and Uber Eats, is working on an alternative delivery system that offers better terms for its 20,000 restaurant partners. In 2021, the 10-year-old outfit launched the Order Better Network, which makes restaurant menus available across several marketplaces and social networks including Snapchat, Rakuten, Marriott Bonvoy, and United Mileage Plus, with order buttons fully integrated. The network makes it easy for customers to place orders and helps restaurants reach more customers through different channels without spending exorbitant amounts of money. The company also helps restaurants protect the profits they make on orders by working with the likes of Snapchat to stop them from charging extra fees or taking a cut of earnings. ChowNow takes a 12% commission on every order, which is substantially lower than the 30% charged on most meal delivery platforms, ensuring that most of the profit goes to the restaurant.