The startup that saved the restaurant industry in the nick of time

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Restaurant reservations startup Tock was on a mission to restore the advantage to restaurants and small businesses when the pandemic hit. Turns out, the company was just getting started. Nick Kokonas, CEO of the restaurant reservations platform Tock, is meeting a handful of new employees over Zoom for the first time. The latest hires of his rapidly growing Chicago-based company are tuning in from their apartments. He’s logging in from a house in Lake Tahoe that he’s rented for a few weeks in January in an attempt to take a vacation after an extraordinarily busy year. Read Full Story

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How restaurants can survive in a stay-at-home era

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At the Fast Company Innovation Festival, the founders of Milk Bar, Alinea, and Sweetgreen talk about how they’ve weathered the COVID-19 crisis. Every industry has been impacted by COVID-19, but few have been more affected—or devastated—than the nation’s restaurants. On Monday, Nick Kokonas, the restaurateur behind Chicago’s Alinea and reservations platform Tock spoke with Milk Bar founder and CEO Christina Tosi and Sweetgreen cofounder and CEO Jonathan Neman about how they’ve managed to stay afloat—and even thrive—in a stay-at-home era. Read Full Story

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How food delivery upstarts are fighting the tyranny of Grubhub

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As restaurants turn to food delivery en masse amid the COVID-19 pandemic, smaller startups are rising up to challenge Big Food Delivery’s supremacy. “The pandemic really just crushed us,” says Sean Li, cofounder of CaterCow , a platform that partners with restaurants to deliver big batch buffet-like food options primarily to offices and event spaces across eight major U.S. cities. When most nonessential businesses shut their doors in mid-March and people started working from their living rooms, Li says he saw his business’s revenue “tank by 98% over the course of the week.” Read Full Story

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The “dozen-bagel” secret to preserving startup spirit as your company grows

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In an excerpt from his new book, Twilio cofounder and CEO Jeff Lawson explains how his fast-growing startup got unwieldy—and then got back on track. In 1998, my friend Dave Schappell (no, not comedian Dave Chappelle) joined fledgling Amazon.com as (roughly) employee 100. He helped launch Amazon Marketplace, Amazon Associates, Amazon Auctions, and some of their other platforms. He was also the person who recruited me to join AWS in 2004. By that time, the company had grown to approximately 5,000 employees, and Dave left Amazon to found a startup called TeachStreet. Eight years later, in 2012, Amazon acquired that startup and Dave again found himself employed by Amazon, which by that time employed more than 75,000 people. Read Full Story

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This app lets you buy whatever food your favorite restaurant has leftover at the end of the day

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Too Good To Go—a winner of ‘Fast Company’s’ 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards—connects customers with a random grab bag of leftover goods and food from stores. It’s already saved 200,000 meals from going to landfills. At the end of the business day, a bakery may have a few leftover cupcakes, or a market may have made more boxes of fresh sushi than what was sold earlier at lunch. A food bank likely wouldn’t make the trip for such a small amount of food, so instead of going to someone in need, those items get tossed in the trash. But with the app Too Good To Go, you can reserve a “surprise bag” from one of those restaurants, and get whatever would have been thrown away at the end of the day for a discounted price. Read Full Story

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See Burger King’s restaurant of the future, where the car is king

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The next Burger Kings will go where few Burger Kings have gone before: the second story. Ask any fast food company, from Taco Bell to McDonald’s, and they will tell you : COVID-19 accelerated everything. While these restaurants knew that drive-throughs and delivery services had been growing, and that digital apps were essential to their future business, shuttered dining rooms catapulted us into that future of fast food overnight. Read Full Story

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