Master the art of managing your restaurant online

Tips, tutorials and data to help you make the most of Ordr.in’s restaurant tools.

App Spotlight: Pizza The App

Posted by David

Pizza The App is an app for ordering pizza at the tap of a button. It makes ordering a pizza delivery as easy as ordering a Lyft or Uber. You create your pizza, and we route your order to our network of hand-picked local pizzerias.

 

What inspired you to create this app?

We were hungry in our kitchen late one night! We were like, “there should be a button for ordering pizza!”


What was the hardest moment building it?

We’ve got work cut out, so maybe our hardest moment is ahead of us :)

One of our ongoing challenges is being as reliable as possible, so we never have to turn down a customer who’s in the mood for some ‘zza. We have a network of hand-picked, highly rated pizzerias, and we’ve built a fallback system so that if a restaurant is closed or non-responsive, we route your order to another awesome local pizzeria. Ordr.in has been instrumental here.

We call our software stack PaaS (Pizza as a Service) - read the blog post!


How did it evolve (if at all!) from how you thought of it at the beginning to what you've launched?

It’s gotten even simpler - fewer screens, faster loading, less input needed from the user. We’re having fun seeing how far we can push this, how easy & fun we can make it to order a pizza.


What's next for the app?

We are super focused on pizza. It’s a food people love - it’s popular, delicious, shareable, and open late.

We’re constantly listening to users to find ways of making the experience even easier, more reliable, and more widespread.


What technologies and APIs did you use?

Besides Ordr.in, we’ve had a great relationship with Stripe, Google, Twilio, Heroku, Sendgrid, and GitHub. PizzaTheApp would not exist if not for these awesome services! This is the problem Google founder Sergey Brin wanted to solve in the 90’s, but was too difficult then so they did Google instead :)


How can people check out the app or get in touch if they want to find out more?

Want pizza? Visit --> PizzaTheApp.com

Find us on Snapchat/Twitter: @PizzaTheApp

Email: pepperoni@pizzatheapp.com

Announcing the Windows 8 and Windows Phone SDK!

Posted by David

Many a startup has been more harmed than helped by working with large brands. But when Microsoft offered to work with Ordr.in we jumped at the chance. The result of this partnership is an SDK and reference food ordering app for Windows 8 and Windows Phone. We are thrilled and you should be, too.

Ordr.in’s mission is to power new and innovative ways for restaurants and consumers to engage and transact. Windows 8 and Phone offer unique user experiences. Developing for them unlocks imagination. We are excited to see the developer community rise to the occasion.

Many thanks to our excellent friends at Microsoft, especially EIR Tereza Nemessanyi and developer Steve Maier. These guys and their colleagues really know how to get things done with startups.

Happy hacking!

APIs as a Business Development Tool

Posted by David
 

When I attended my first API conference in 2010 the audience was small, super techy and asking more questions than offering answers. Everything was new and the scope of impact APIs would have was imagined, but not yet realized. Since then I have watched the API community get larger, smarter and stronger.

Last week I attended and spoke at Mashery's excellent Business of APIs conference in London. I was blown away by the quality of talks given. It was a real coming of age moment for the community. APIs unlocking corporate data to empower employees; APIs used for strategic purposes to redefine value in an industry; APIs enabling efficient international expansion; and much more.

I spoke on the power of APIs to act as a catalyst for successful business partnerships, calling APIs the most important advance in the science of business development I've ever seen. When I put together my talk I was struck that my own experience is such that I can give a do's and don't talk.

The slightly modified presentation here and please share your thoughts. This community has come so far so fast because companies like Mashery have gotten us all talking. The more we share the better we all will be.

 

Charlie Trotter

Posted by David
 

Charlie Trotter, who died this week at age 54, was one of America's best and most important chefs. A self-trained master, he single handedly inspired and trained dozens of culinary professionals. From his kitchen, these chefs, sommeliers and others have gone on to found and run some of the best kitchens in Chicago, turning a steak and potato town into one of the world's most vibrant, diverse culinary centers. 

 

Beyond his restaurant Charlie put his mark on the restaurant industry. Not only was he a ten time winner of James Beard Awards, but in that institution's darkest hours he lent his reputation and considerable energy to its' rebirth. When 99% of the world would have walked away, he and a tiny handful of people stepped up. 

 

Charlie's generosity was as grand as his tasting menus. Daily kids from the Chicago public school system were treated to a sumptuous meal in his private dining room. The kids were treated to talks on excellence, service and more.  So many children had their world's expanded because of Charlie!

 

There are days when I fear my reach exceeds my grasp. On those days I get inspiration from people who have proved there is no such thing as not possible. Charlie is one of those people. The Ordr.in community sends our condolences to his son, wife Rochelle and all who loved him. His impact lives on but we miss him still.

 

Meet Brooks' Place BBQ

Posted by David
 

There is a trailer on the side of the road in Cypress, TX surrounded by fast food restaurants and gas stations. You could drive by it if you didn’t know what you were looking for. And what are you looking for? Close your eyes and take a whiff. It’s mouth watering, fall-off-the-bone barbecue.

Trent Brooks, the man behind it all, has been cooking for customers since 2009. He got started with the barbecue business by accident, initially just to earn a little extra income. Most days now he runs out of food before he runs out of customers. But as you might expect from a man who cooks his meat for hours and hours, Trent’s taking a measured approach to the future. He wants to continue with his trailer for a few more years before he even thinks about branching out to share his barbecue with the rest of the country.

Trent is one of 14,101 restaurants that use Ordr.in software in some fashion. We love Brooks Place and all of our clients. And if our staff could vote on the location of our next team off-site, I suspect Cypress, TX on the corner of Barker Cypress and Rt. 529 would get a lot of votes. Trent, we’re hungry!

To learn more about Brooks Place or to order some amazing pickup, visit brooksplacebbq.com

 

Ordr.interns Polina: Harnessing chaos to help you choose

Posted by David
[Here at ordr.in we love our interns! They’re amazingly talented and far more accomplished than I was. For their first week at ordr.in we ask them to build anything they want as long as it uses our API. They present it to the company that friday. We push them right in - not a lot of time to get settled and get going! We give them whatever help and resources we can (we’re sitting about 3 feet from them, how can we help but look over a shoulder every now and again :), but this is totally their project. The creativity and technical wizardry we’ve seen is breathtaking, I hope you’ll agree.
Polina is at Columbia now and came recommended to us by a friend of the company. We are unbelievably glad for that rec! Hers was the first intern project where I had to use wikipedia to even understand what she was saying. (not the D&D jokes - I totally always get those) --felix]

Chaos is an attractive word. It frequently appears in pop culture as something untamable, wild, and completely unpredictable (for example, think of the Alignment from D&D - Lawful / Neutral / Chaotic). This is a somewhat romanticized and obscured view of the original, mathematical chaos, which in its own right is quite beautiful.

Mathematical chaos is deterministic, meaning it is not random, but extremely sensitive to the initial conditions - this is the origin of the image of the flap of a butterfly's wings in Australia that sets off a tornado in Texas.

So why not combine tasty concepts of chaos and food into an app? Enter Chaotic Chow.

The so-called logistic map was a great candidate to be the chaos-giving component of Chaotic Chow. It is a rather innocent-looking equation that gives the next number in a sequence, given the previous one: . It turns out that for certain values of , if the first number in the sequence, , is perturbed just a tiny bit, the following sequence terms vary greatly. The other useful thing about the logistic map is that the values in the sequences it produces is in the range (0, 1) (as long as some constraints about and are met). This enables ease of mapping to a menu of a non-constant size.

When teaching chaos I discovered that providing an interactive visualization of what is going on was very helpful. With the help of the powerful and neat D3.js library I whipped together a demonstration of how the logistic equation (or rather, its sequence up to 500 points) behaves for different and , which are changeable by sliders. Check it out!

x = 0.50
k = 3.56

In order to improve the speed of the sliders' response, all 980100 point values are precomputed:

function logistic(k, x){
  return k*x*(1-x);
}

function getLogistArray(k, x0){
  var array = [[0, x0]],
  x = x0;
  for(var i = 1; i <= 500; i++){
    x = logistic(k, x);
    if(i % 5 == 0){
      array.push([i, x]);
    }
  }
  return array;
}

for(var h = 1; h < 100; h++){
  var xBuild = h/100,
    ptDataRow = [];
  for(var i = 1; i < 100; i++){
    kBuild = i/25;
    ptDataRow.push(getLogistArray(kBuild, xBuild));
  }
  ptData.push(ptDataRow);
}

How does this tie into food? First, the menu that the Ordr.in API returns is processed - only orderable items and their options are taken into consideration. This gives a list of orderable items, all of which are indexed.

Next, the user gets to select the value of , from a slider. This, in turn, will determine the upcoming sequence of numbers. At random, points are picked from the created sequence. The values at these points are then mapped to the index of some items in the menu, which are thus picked.

To increase practicality - as much practicality as there can be for a quasi-random meal picker - a limit on the maximum cost and number of items in the total order are determined by the user.

Finally, to increase the fun, there's another visualization in the app. This time, it only shows the points for the particular sequence and highlights the chosen ones that correspond to an item that was inserted into the order.

If the chaos in the order is too much to handle (2 sets of utensils for $0.28, 3 bottles of different beers, and a cup of coffee), it's always possible to re-chaotize the order by allowing for a different value of and observe the new sequence pop up in the graph.

While the app isn't finished or polished, if you want to check it out feel free!

-- Polina