Order For Me founder and CEO, Michael Jordan, and co-founder, Greg Daniels, were ahead of their time when they developed their contactless dining platform pre-COVID. Now, with statewide mandates and regulations for restaurants, Venice-based Order For Me's innovative technology is helping eateries survive a pandemic.
The growing platform uses QR codes to allow restaurant customers to view menus, place orders, pay, tip, and even split bills, all from their own mobile phones. This not only decreases the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for both customers and staff, but it also makes the dine-in experience much more efficient and stress-free. Additionally, if customers are not comfortable with dining out quite yet, they can place fee-free orders for pickup on the website.
Working to make positive systemic change in a time of injustice and inequality, the founders of Order For Me are offering their services — free for life — to Black-owned restaurants in L.A. This not only allows these Black-owned businesses to thrive amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic, but it will also help these restaurants gain more traction and support from their communities.
Restaurants on Order for Me's menu include Los Feliz's Honeybee Burger, West 3rd Street's No. 10, and a slew of eateries in Santa Monica and Venice, including The Anchor, Cha Cha Chicken, Dagwoods, El Huarique, Margo's, Papille Gustative, Venice Beach Wines, and many others.
As Order for Me's Chief Executive Chef, Daniels has spent his career in the culinary world, including as the chef de cuisine of Waldorf Astoria's Rooftop by JG and currently as the executive chef and partner of Golden Bull (it's also available on the platform). Jordan powers the tech side of the company — he previously worked in the surfing world, where he founded a fantasy surfing platform and went on to create and manage digital surf statistics and analysis products.
Here, Jordan gives us a little more insight into his business.
What was the "a-ha moment" or conversation that sparked the idea of Order For Me? How did COVID affect your launch and/or timeline?
Order For Me is a concept I've been developing for quite some time, long before COVID-19 was even a thought. However, it never made sense for restaurants to change their operations when they didn't need to. In 2017, I read an article describing how minimum wage increases were going to force restaurants in California to either adopt counter-service or go out of business. I knew our product would help them operate with leaner labor costs and it felt like the right moment to move forward.
In 2018, we were committed to this steep climb, knowing that it might take 10 years to be a self-sustaining business. Then, we felt the immediate and unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on the food and beverage industry, giving us a catalyst that required businesses to pivot and expedite the adoption of Order For Me. We are no longer just a convenience platform, but one that provides added comfort and safety for employees and guests.
What particular examples or experiences inspired you to provide free service to Black-owned businesses?
Real change requires real action. Even as a smaller company, we feel that we are in a position to help in some capacity. Not everyone is beyond the point of awareness, and it is our responsibility to exemplify the changes we call for. Racism and injustice is obviously a huge systemic issue in our society, and we want to actively do what we can to support our neighbors who have dealt with this inequality for far too long. We know this is not a fix, but we hope it encourages others to step up in actionable ways that will ultimately make a difference.
Can you share any feedback that you've received thus far from restaurants on how Order For Me has helped them?
We get a lot of compliments on the system from our restaurant partners, mostly on how easy it is to use, and how owners are in full control of the menu, in real-time. With other apps, a restaurant would typically have to make changes on a single tablet, or contact the app directly in a lengthy, tedious process – even just to remove an item like French Fries from a digital menu.
Additionally, the extra net profit the restaurants earn is extremely helpful, since we aren't taking any fees, but they can still charge guests an added service fee for the convenience. This means restaurants can get an additional 5% from sales made through Order For Me through the rest of 2020, and when we do start charging commissions for the platform next year, guests will already be accustomed to it.
Our partners also tell us how much their customers love the platform, and always mention how easy and user-friendly it is. With no app to download, they can place an order by just opening their camera and scanning the QR code at their table. Dine-in guests express how safe and comfortable they feel enjoying a typical dining experience, but without the need to touch menus, bills and money. In our flagship accounts, we're averaging 30 to 35% of total sales.
The health department also loves to see restaurants using the platform as it allows the restaurants to check off many boxes in their ever-changing list of requirements, especially during the pandemic.
Where do you see the platform in the future?
We hope to eventually expand beyond restaurants into hotel pools and room service, retail and experiential transactions. We've opened the door to convenient and touchless payments on a scale bigger than the array of transactional apps out there. Obviously our main focus for the near future is to get our tech into the hands of restaurant guests who want it. That's a responsibility we share with forward-thinking restaurant owners (please reach out to [email protected] if you are one!)