How Apps Step Up to the Plate for Food-Oriented Start-Ups: Guest


Mobile apps are a big part of GrubHub’s menu

Earlier this month, Chicago-based GrubHub gorged on another $50 million in venture capital financing. While the 7-year-old start-up success story will use much of that money to acquire a competitor, GrubHub will no doubt leave some room on its plate for mobile application development.

GrubHub’s apps for the iPhone and Android devices are great for when you are looking to place a food order while on the El on your way home from work. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve tapped into both apps while on the couch, too lazy to actually get behind a computer to make my order.

In any event, as GrubHub expands beyond the 19 U.S. cities in which it currently operates, you can bet the company will pay as much attention to its mobile offerings as it does

Said CEO Matt Maloney in a press release that announced the financing and acquisition of Dotmenu, operator of Allmenus and Campusfood: “The acquisition is a natural fit for us and we are extremely excited to be able to share our mobile capabilities with their expansive network of diners and restaurants.”

Sounds like a delicious strategy. To date, GrubHub has raised more than $85 million in venture capital financing.

FoodGenius on Android

Food-focused start-ups and established companies alike are developing more iPhone apps and Android apps to cater to the rising mobile appetites of their consumers.

Locally, Chicago-based FoodGenius has a very tasty Android app that makes personalized meal recommendations based on information you provide and how you rate other meals. The company’s database includes more than 4,000 Chicago area restaurants that comprise more than 175,000 different dishes.

Like GrubHub’s early days, FoodGenius is exclusive to Chicago for now. However, the company, which is part of the 2011 class of Excelerate Labs, plans to take a bite out of other markets soon.

Here’s hoping FoodGenius saves some room for an iOS offering as well.

More mobile meal apps

Nationally, the hottest mobile application that focuses on restaurant recommendations is the Ness iPhone app. Upon downloading the app, Ness asks users 10 questions about restaurants in their area. From that info, as well as information culled from a user’s Facebook friends, the company provides compelling restaurant recommendations. Give it a whirl and find out for yourself.

Of course, the pioneers in this space like Urbanspoon (with separate apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices) and OpenTable (also available for the iPhone, iPad and Android) won’t leave you hungry.

Let the mobile munching commence!

Brad Spirrison is the Managing Editor of and, where consumers find mobile apps they'll love. The Appolicious family of sites (which also includes video review service and mobile apps (for the iPhone and Android devices) are discovery tools to help consumers browse, search and share recommendations for the hundreds of thousands of apps available on the iOS and Android platforms. Spirrison, a longtime Chicago-based media and technology commentator, lives in Lakeview with his wife and young son.

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