Facebook’s Virtual Dinner Party

Social networks begin to sample the dining experience

On Facebook you can do it all: share, game, shop, listen, chat, stalk, and poke. Until now, however, you couldn't eat.

Maybe that's because restaurateurs tend to get overwhelmed when it comes to social media. "They kind of shut down," says Noah Glass, CEO of OLO. His company provides online ordering integration to more than 150 national restaurant chains like Five Guys and Cold Stone Creamery. And, naturally, it's just launched a Facebook app.

The company's partnership with ordering site GrubHub gives OLO an inroad to a database of local, independent restaurants, says Glass. So now fans of, say, Bullritos, a Texas burrito chain with 15 locations, can order food directly from its Facebook fan page and invite friends via status update to join in on the order. This week, OLO launched its first app with a national brand, Five Guys. Fans of the chain can now use its Facebook page to order from one of its 750 locations.

Of course, that may not be the best thing for dieters. Research shows unhealthy eating is contagious. Having a higher number of obese friends increases a person's own risk of obesity, Arizona State University's School of Human Evolution & Social Change revealed earlier this year. That Jalapeno Smokehouse Bacon Burger order could just cost you a few Facebook friends.