THE LIST

Fast Company - - Contents - By David Lid­sky

Ten restau­rant in­no­va­tions with a last­ing im­pact on food cul­ture.

1. De­liv­ery 1922

New Los An­ge­les Chi­nese restau­rant Kin-chu Cafe prom­ises de­liv­ery un­til 1 a.m., one of the first in­stances of tele­phone-based food or­der­ing.

The im­pact: De­liv­ery is a $43 bil­lion busi­ness an­nu­ally in the United States, and apps such as Grub­hub and Post­mates of­fer de­liv­ery from just about any restau­rant.

2. Drive-through 1948

The first In-n-out Burger al­lows driv­ers to or­der through an in­ter­com and pick up from a win­dow— with­out step­ping out of the car.

The im­pact: With up to 70% of fast-food sales com­ing via the drive-through lane, even high­erend chains such as Star­bucks and Chipo­tle have been forced to em­brace the sys­tem.

3. Credit card 1950

Din­ers Club be­comes the first mul­ti­pur­pose charge card, elim­i­nat­ing the need for cash or a house ac­count at up­scale restau­rants. The im­pact: Bill-pay­ing tech con­tin­ues to evolve, with restau­ra­teurs em­brac­ing star­tups that of­fer pre­paid tick­et­ing (Tock) or elim­i­nate the check drop and re­place it with pay-by-phone (Resy).

4. The Mc­don­ald’s sys­tem 1955

Af­ter Ray Kroc opens the first Mc­don­ald’s fran­chise in Des Plaines, Illi­nois, he in­sti­tutes con­sis­tent prep meth­ods and sets up a sup­ply chain to en­sure uni­form qual­ity while ex­pand­ing rapidly. The im­pact: Al­most ev­ery chain since has tried to em­u­late its prow­ess; Just Salad, for one, touts its em­ploy­ees’ abil­ity to toss 60 sal­ads an hour.

5. Elec­tronic cash reg­is­ter 1973

IBM rolls out the 3650 Re­tail Store Sys­tem, a client-server main­frame for track­ing or­ders and in­ven­tory.

The im­pact: Since Mc­don­ald’s adopted com­put­er­ized or­der en­try in 1974, sys­tems have be­come in­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated; Square de­liv­ers even more power—in a tablet com­puter.

6. Molec­u­lar gas­tron­omy 1987

A mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gist ex­per­i­ments with mak­ing ice cream us­ing liq­uid ni­tro­gen (rather than churn­ing), in­ad­ver­tently in­vent­ing Dip­pin’ Dots.

The im­pact: Molec­u­lar gas­tron­omy is now main­stream; Smit­ten is a pop­u­lar liq­uid-ni­tro­gen ice cream chain; Pan­era and oth­ers use cook­ing tech­niques such as sous vide.

7. In­ter­net or­der­ing 1994

The promise of or­der­ing a pizza via the in­ter­net be­comes a re­al­ity when Pizza Hut takes the first dig­i­tal or­der—large pep­per­oni with mush­rooms and ex­tra cheese. The im­pact: About half of all U.S. pizza or­ders are now dig­i­tal, and Domino’s has usurped Pizza Hut with its pizza tracker and emoji or­der­ing.

8. Data-driven restau­rant man­age­ment 1999

Own­ers ran restau­rants by feel un­til the startup Avero cre­ated soft­ware to an­a­lyze sales and in­ven­tory to re­veal in­sights such as which servers are best at woo­ing cus­tomers to or­der dessert. The im­pact: Data now rules the guest ex­pe­ri­ence as well, via ser­vices such as Yelp, which has tools to man­age reser­va­tions, wait times, and re­wards.

9. In­sta­gram 2010

In­sta­gram co­founder Kevin Sys­trom’s first pho­tos on the app are from San Fran­cisco’s Tacos Chi­lakos stand, estab­lish­ing the re­la­tion­ship be­tween food and photo shar­ing. The im­pact: Taco Bell cre­ates prod­ucts like the Que­salupa for its In­sta­grammable cheese pull; av­o­cado toast sales boom be­cause it’s pretty.

10. Robots! 2017

Domino’s Pizza an­nounces a test to de­liver via self-driv­ing cars. Cus­tomers grab their or­der from the back, no hu­man in­ter­ac­tion nec­es­sary.

The im­pact: Robots are also be­ing de­ployed to make food—chow­botics is a salad maker and Cafe X a barista—and chains such as Mc­don­ald’s and Wendy’s are rolling out self-serve or­der kiosks.

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