Bacon Is a Dipping Food

I thought we’d all signed off on every use of bacon. I thought Reddit and Epicurious and Epic Meal Time had taught us that bacon goes with everything. But judging by the looks I get at the diner when I dip my bacon in butter, we have not. We apparently have not collectively agreed that bacon, like french fries or baby… Read more...

Chowly is raising $5.8 million to help restaurants manage on-demand delivery orders

Chowly, a point-of-sale system for restaurants, has raised nearly $4.7 million, according to an SEC filing. The company is targeting a total raise of $5.8 million. The round is led by MATH Venture Partners with participation from Valor Equity, Chicago Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners and others. Chowly had previously raised just $700,000 from MATH Venture Partners, Domenick Montanile and others. Chowly aims to help restaurants better manage the influx of delivery orders they receive from a variety of services, such as Grubhub, Delivery.com and Chownow. In May, Square launched a point-of-sale system for restaurants that integrates on-demand delivery platform Caviar. Down the road, Square said it envisions third-party applications from companies like Postmates, UberEats and DoorDash.

Gadgets and small appliances that will keep you in the kitchen

Editor’s note: This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and TechCrunch earn affiliate commissions.                                                              When life gets busy, cooking is one of the first activities that many forego to get a bit more free time. However, after a while, ordering out and eating sub-par meals gets old. Kitchen gadgets that assist in quickly preparing meals and drinks are not only helpful but essential in creating balance — and time — to conquer the day. Whether it’s a cold
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Zume adds a robotic arm to its automated pizza kitchen

Earlier this year, Zume made it pretty clear that it was exploring life beyond pizza. Coffee, steamed buns and frozen yogurt have all been floated as possibilities for the newly formed Zume Inc. Of course, for its subsidiary Zume Pizza, the titular foodstuff is very much its bread and butter.

In fact, the company’s increasing the number of in-kitchen robots its implementing, with the addition of an arm into the mix. The ABB robotic arm, nicknamed “Vincenzo,” pulls pizzas from the 800-degree robotic oven and places them on nearby shelves, filling an entire rack in around four and a half minutes. Zume cites a stat from Cintas that blames restaurant gigs for as much as one-third of occupational burns. So, better robot arms than human. 

The company also used the occasion to announce another, more human, addition to the team. Rhonda Lesinski-Woolf will be joining up as president

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Taste test: Burger robot startup Creator opens first restaurant

Creator’s transparent burger robot doesn’t grind your brisket and chuck steak into a gourmet patty until you order it. That’s just one way this startup, formerly known as Momentum Machines, wants to serve the world’s freshest cheesebuger for just $6. On June 27th, after 8 years in development, Creator opens its first robot restaurant. We got a sneak peek…err…taste. When I ask how a startup launching one eatery at a time could become a $10 billion company, Creator co-founder and CEO Alex Vardakostas looks me dead in the eye and says “the market is much bigger than that.” Here’s how Creator’s burger-cooking bot works at its 680 Folsom St location in San Francisco. Once you order your burger style through a human concierge on a tablet, a compressed air tube pushes a baked-that-day bun into an elevator on the right. It’s sawwed in half by a vibrating knife before being
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VCs serve up a large helping of cash to startups disrupting food

Here is what your daily menu might look like if recently funded startups have their way. You’ll start the day with a nice, lightly caffeinated cup of cheese tea. Chase away your hangover with a cold bottle of liver-boosting supplement. Then slice up a few strawberries, fresh-picked from the corner shipping container. Lunch is full of options. Perhaps a tuna sandwich made with a plant-based, tuna-free fish. Or, if you’re feeling more carnivorous, grab a grilled chicken breast fresh from the lab that cultured its cells, while crunching on a side of mushroom chips. And for extra protein, how about a brownie? Dinner might be a pizza so good you send your compliments to the chef — only to discover
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Deliveroo fattens its market presence by opening to restaurants that do deliveries

Restaurant food delivery startup Deliveroo is taking the next logical step to expand its business by opening up to restaurants that have their own delivery fleets — thereby also expanding the food choices it can offer its couch-loving users. Next month the company will launch the new service, called Marketplace+, in seven of its markets — onboarding restaurants that do their own food deliveries to its platform, and offering them the ability to tap into Deliveroo’s network of riders to extend their delivery services and support faster delivery times if they choose (it says restaurants will be able to “choose for themselves how best to offer delivery” but the impact on, for example, existing delivery fleet staff employed by larger food chains remains to be seen). Commenting on the launch in a statement, Deliveroo CEO and co-founder Will Shu said: “Today we are unveiling the next big step in
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Square’s Caviar agrees to pay $2.2 million to settle class-action lawsuit over gratuity

Square, the payments company led by Jack Dorsey, has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a class-action lawsuit involving its on-demand food delivery service, Caviar . Today, customers who ordered food from Caviar between January 20, 2012 and August 31, 2015 received a notice of the proposed class-action settlement. As part of the settlement, which TechCrunch has reviewed, plaintiff Spencer Janssen’s counsel is expected to seek up to $755,000 in fees and costs. Janssen himself is seeking up to $10,000, which means the remaining $1.44 million will be divvied up among other class members, who can use the money to put toward another Caviar order. The parties agreed there were 93,914 class members, so that comes out to about $15.28 per person. The court will make its decision to approve or deny the settlement on September 21, 2018. The lawsuit claimed Square collected gratuities from customers but
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Deliveroo opens up POS integration for restaurant partners via an API

Restaurant food delivery startup Deliveroo is opening up Point of Sale (POS) integrations to restaurant partners, via an API and developer portal, after trialling the approach this spring and finding appetite for uptake. The integration is intended to free up front-of-house staff from having to manually input Deliveroo food orders into the restaurant’s sales system. A Deliveroo spokesman told us that one major chain had been having to assign a single member of staff at peak times to just “sit there and type in the orders”, thereby reducing the number of staff who could attend to customers in the restaurant at a busy time. Order inputting also isn’t necessarily popular with staff, given there’s no direct opportunity for tips. Automating the task certainly seems a no brainer. Deliveroo claims initial tests show the integration cuts order processing time from ~2.5 mins to ~30 sec. It also reckons POS
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Photos on social media can predict the health of neighborhoods

The images that appear on social media – happy people eating, cultural happenings, and smiling dogs – can actually predict the likelihood that a neighborhood is “healthy” as well as its level of gentrification. From the report:
So says a groundbreaking study published in Frontiers in Physics, in which researchers used social media images of cultural events in London and New York City to create a model that can predict neighborhoods where residents enjoy a high level of wellbeing — and even anticipate gentrification by 5 years. With more than half of the world’s population living in cities, the model could help policymakers ensure human wellbeing in dense urban settings.
The idea is based on the concept of “cultural capital” – the more there is, the better the neighborhood becomes. For example, if there are many pictures of fun events in a certain spot you can expect a higher
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Meet the speakers at The Europas, and get your ticket free (July 3, London)

Excited to announce that this year’s The Europas Unconference & Awards is shaping up! Our half day Unconference kicks off on 3 July, 2018 at The Brewery in the heart of London’s “Tech City” area, followed by our startup awards dinner and fantastic party and celebration of European startups! The event is run in partnership with TechCrunch, the official media partner. Attendees, nominees and winners will get deep discounts to TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin, later this year.
The Europas Awards are based on voting by expert judges and the industry itself. But key to the daytime is all the speakers and invited guests. There’s no “off-limits speaker room” at The Europas, so attendees can mingle easily with VIPs and speakers. What exactly is an Unconference? We’re dispensing with the lectures and going straight to the deep-dives, where you’ll get a front row seat with Europe’s leading investors, founders and
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EAT Club acquires healthy food startup Farm Hill

EAT Club, the corporate lunch service with a customer base that includes Flipboard, Mastercard and TaskRabbit, has acquired Farm Hill, a lunch box delivery service, to solidify and expand its presence in the San Francisco Bay Area. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Farm Hill had previously raised $4 million in capital. EAT Club also brought on Doug Leeds, the former CEO at IAC Publishing and former executive in residence at August Capital, as its new CEO. Leeds is EAT Club’s third CEO since 2016, when its first CEO Frank Han moved into the COO role. Han left the company entirely in November 2017, according to his LinkedIn. Following Han’s departure as CEO, EAT Club brought on Mike Griffith, who served as president and CEO for less than two years. Griffith left in March because of a cultural mismatch of sorts, EAT Club co-founder Rodrigo Santibáñez told me. With
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Food delivery’s untapped opportunity

Investors may have already placed their orders in the consumer food delivery space, but there’s still a missing recipe for solving the over $250 billion business-to-business foodservice distribution problem that’s begging for venture firms to put more cooks in the kitchen.  Stock prices for Sysco and US Foods, the two largest food distributors, are up by over 20% since last summer when Amazon bought Whole Foods. But, these companies haven’t made any material changes to their business model to counteract the threat of Amazon. I know a thing or two about the food services industry and the need for a B2B marketplace in an industry ripe with all of our favorite buzz words: fragmentation, last mile logistics and a lack of pricing transparency.

The business-to-business food
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Instacart names David Hahn as new Chief Product Officer

Instacart, the on-demand grocery delivery platform that finds itself at the center of ever-increasing competition, has today announced that David Hahn will be taking over as Instacart’s new Chief Product Officer. Hahn previously served as VP of Product at LinkedIn, after which time he went to Greylock to serve as an entrepreneur in residence, helping portfolio companies think through their products and monetization strategies. Most recently, Hahn was President and Chief Product Officer at GoFundMe. Hahn joins Instacart during an interesting time for the grocery space. Online grocery shopping a delivery has reached “a tipping point,” in the words of Hahn, as incumbents like Walmart and Target formulate their own delivery options. Meanwhile, as we all know, Amazon is working to integrate newly acquired Whole Foods into its Prime delivery portfolio. “Just a few years from now, everyone will get their groceries this way,” said Hahn. “I’m excited to
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Good Eggs raises $50M and eyes West Coast expansion

Good Eggs, the food delivery service that promises “absurdly fresh” groceries and meal kits, has raised $50 million in new funding. That looks like a big turnaround from 2015, when the company had multiple rounds of layoffs, shut down operations outside of San Francisco and brought on Bradley Hall (an executive from Plum Organics and Clif Bar) as its new CEO. Hall said that after he took over, he spent months focused on retooling the fundamental business: “We didn’t have a single conversation about growth.” Since then, he said the company started looking at “growth with purpose” and in 2018 is ready for “thoughtful, measured expansion.” “The first change is, we realized that we were a food company enabled by technology, versus a technology company that sells food,” Hall said. That might sound vague, but it led to more concrete “trickle effects,” like quadrupling the number of
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Munchery shuts down operations in LA, New York and Seattle

Munchery, the on-demand food delivery startup, has shut down its operations in Los Angeles, New York and Seattle, the company announced on its blog today. That means the teams from those cities are also being let go. “We recognize the impact this will have on the members of our team in those regions,” Munchery CEO James Beriker wrote on the company blog. “Our teams in each city have built their businesses from scratch and worked tirelessly to serve our customers and their communities. I am grateful for their unwavering commitment to Munchery’s mission and success. I truly wish that the outcome would have been different.” With LA, New York and Seattle off the table, Munchery says it’s going to focus more on its business in San Francisco, its first and largest market. This shift in operations will also enable Munchery to “achieve profitability on the near term, and build
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Vegan meal kit startup Purple Carrot raises $4M from Fresh Del Monte

Purple Carrot announced this morning that it has raised $4 million in strategic funding from Fresh Del Monte Produce. The company, which delivers completely plant-based (vegan) meal kits to subscribers, was founded in 2014. It has, in part, gotten attention through celebrity involvement, first by enlisting food writer Mark Bittman as its chief innovation officer (Bittman departed in 2016), then by partnering with football star and notorious strawberry hater Tom Brady to launch TB12 meal kits. Purple Carrot had previously raised $6 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. The company says that this new investment will allow it to improve its supply chain, get access to more retail opportunities and explore expansion into other categories. “Securing this strategic investment from Fresh Del Monte is a huge validation of our business model, and an important step forward for our company,” said Purple Carrot founder and CEO Andy Levitt in
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How did Thumbtack win the on-demand services market?

Earlier today, the services marketplace Thumbtack held a small conference for 300 of its best gig economy workers at an event space in San Francisco. For the nearly ten-year-old company the event was designed to introduce some new features and a redesign of its brand that had softly launched earlier in the week. On hand, in addition to the services professionals who’d paid their way from locations across the U.S. were the company’s top executives. It’s the latest step in the long journey that Thumbtack took to become one of the last companies standing with a consumer facing marketplace for services. Back in 2008, as the global financial crisis was only just beginning to tear at the fabric of the U.S. economy, entrepreneurs at companies like Thumbtack andTaskRabbit were already hard at work on potential patches. This was the beginning of what’s now known as the gig
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Tyson Foods investment arm backs another lab-grown meat manufacturer

The venture investment arm of massive meat manufacturer Tyson Foods is continuing its push into potential alternative methods of poultry production with a new investment in the Israeli startup Future Meat Technologies. The backer of companies like the plant-based protein-maker Beyond Meat, and cultured-meat company Memphis Meats, Tyson Ventures’ latest investment is also tackling technology development to create mass produced meat in a lab — instead of on the farm. Future Meat Technologies is working to commercialize a manufacturing technology for fat and muscle cells that was first developed in the laboratories of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “It is difficult to imagine cultured meat becoming a reality with a current production price of about $10,000 per
kilogram,” said Yaakov Nahmias, the company’s founder and Chief Scientist, in a statement. “We redesigned the
manufacturing process until we brought it down to $800 per kilogram today, with a clear roadmap
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The Eminem AR show

With the debut of his Eminem Augmented app at Coachella last night, hip hop’s not-so-merry prankster took the (somewhat revolutionary) step of embracing the machine that so many musicians have raged against — by building an experience that actually enhances the way that modern fans see live music. Rather than fighting the mobile phone phenomena, which has fans watching sets through the reflected glow of a cell phone’s live recording, the multiplatinum megastar decided to lose himself in the moment… and own it. We figured, if the phones are going to be there and people are going to be putting them up in the air and looking at them anyway why don’t we provide a way to maybe change the way they’re perceiving the show,” says Def Jam chief executive (and former manager for Marshall Mathers), Paul Rosenberg. Developed by the multimedia production shop Drive Studios, Eminem’s live
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