Full disclosure: My family owns a restaurant in New York City and the cost of designing, printing, and distributing menus are a lot more than just clicking a few things on the Internet and waiting for things to ship. You have to pick a design that is functional, beautiful, representative of your facility, and most importantly, inviting. Then, it’s just a matter of hoping new customers are curious and kind enough to stop by, and luring them to come back for a delicious experience. So when I heard that a new Latin American restaurant opened up and is crowdsourcing its patrons to make its menu for them, I can’t tell if this is sheer cost-cutting laziness or pure genius.
Comodo, located in the SoHo neighborhood of downtown New York, came up with the idea when it noticed the food porn Instagram trends amongst its customers. You’ve likely seen this happen: People come in, get excited by the food they’ve ordered, and take artsy shots of the plate so their Instagram followers can be presumably jealous by what these guys are having for dinner. Comodo also realized this was a good way for the public to get a relatively accurate representation of the restaurant, so it start encouraging patrons to continue doing what they’re doing, then adding the hashtag #ComodoMenu to the photos.
The result? Ideally, a list of menu items, the names, what they look like, and the price. This is helpful for people considering trying the restaurant, but wants to know the price points, portion sizes, and an exact visual of what they should expect. Of course, this isn’t the only source of menu for Comodo; the restaurant has real physical ones as well for those who aren’t on Instagram.
So far, the hashtag and three-week-old restaurant has garnered 49 photos, but unfortunately, not all the photos are food from the restaurant, and most people forget to mention what the dish is called or how much it costs. Still, the idea is inventive and interactive, and it’s a cheap and easy way to create social buzz. The photos also help to show what menu items are popular judging by how often they show up under the hashtag, and can then be referred to as one of the recommended dishes at Comodo.
At the same time, us Digital Trends writers aren’t particularly thrilled with the whole food porn trend, so we’re pretty torn on encouraging other restaurants to follow suit. Hey, at least if you’re gonna do it, do it with a purpose and help a local business along the way. And businesses, if you’re gonna hop on the trend, you might want to provide some incentives for the patrons giving you free publicity! If it’s anything we can help promote, it’s symbiosis.