Last week we told you that some fancy-pants New York City restaurants have begun pushing back against the “Instagramming your meal” trend by discouraging amateur photographers from breaking out their iPhones during dinner. Yet some within the food business have other ideas: Leading restaurant reservations app/site OpenTable just bet $10 million on user-generated content by acquiring Foodspotting, a startup designed to help users “find and [share] great dishes at restaurants.”
In case you haven’t seen Foodspotting, it’s a fairly inventive little app that allows users to search for, say, New York City’s best cheesecake (which isn’t at Junior’s, no matter how many people tell you otherwise) and displays other users’ shared photos of said cake. It’s a purely visual food community that’s about to get even bigger–and this means that the “playing with our food” debate won’t be over anytime soon, no matter what David Chang thinks.
OpenTable’s official statement positions Foodspotting as a tool that will help the brand “deliver a richer visual and social experience for diners” while providing restaurant clients with more immediate promotional opportunities. Foodspotting’s “rewards” programs, which offer users discounts when they submit grainy shots of that very same cheesecake, could be a new revenue model for restaurants that want to bypass Groupon and related deal sites by communicating directly with the “foodie” community.
So that’s the offical line. OpenTable’s unofficial memo: “(Please) continue taking pictures of your food. And don’t bother listening to those mean managers.”