*This post was written by Edgar Castillo and edited/formatted by The Lunch Belle.*
New Yorkers, for those of you who are indecisive and savvy enough to know about food stuffs, there’s a new new app in town: MUNCH ADO. With their driving motto, “Search Hangry, Order Happy, Reserve Satisfied,” the goals of the app seem clear and in-tune with today’s parlance. However, testing it via my trusty iPhone proved to be a little, shall we politely say, trying...
[Disclaimer: I was provided $100 to use on MUNCH ADO for meal reimbursements.]
Restaurant visit 1: White Oak Tavern
While MUNCH ADO aided in reserving an available table, the restaurant did not have the Dine In option enabled (a feature for users to be able to order food in anticipation of their arrival), so we had to order the old fashioned way once we were seated. Sigh.
Restaurant visit 2: Cheese Grille
After my buddy’s acoustic session at a LES nightclub, I decided to use MUNCH ADO to find something in the area that was hearty and delicious. The app pointed me to Cheese Grille, a comfort food eatery that is owner-operated and specializes in tantalizing selections made fresh to order (the bread is delivered daily from Balthazer Bakery and the cheese comes from local creameries).
After placing an order for eat-in via MUNCH ADO, I eagerly awaited my meal. Unfortunately, I was left waiting a little longer than I had accounted for due to a mix-up with the app. Apparently, the restaurant and MUNCH ADO had not yet "fine tuned" their relationship. I thought that my order for a sandwich and nachos was lost/never received until I inquired about the delay with one of the restaurant's employees. So, it turns out...My order was called in via MUNCH ADO’s Manhattan headquarters. One of the app's staffers actually recited my order and paid with my credit card (READ: READ my card number to the restaurant staffer over the phone and had it marked for "pick-up"). A number of reasons why this was a concern to me: The middle-man seemed to be a big factor that could contribute to mass confusion (Ahem, calling in an order is an antiquated method, for obvious reasons of orders being misheard. Thus, placing an order on a written interface via the app assures efficiency. However, MUNCH ADO seemed to take a step backward here.). Most importantly, the fact that someone called in my order and provided the restaurant with my credit card information was a real shock and made me incredibly uncomfortable. Upon speaking with MUNCH ADO reps, I was given more information to assure secure protocols were taken. But still...!
Visit 3: Javelina
On an atypical Friday night, I attended a book signing immediately after work. During a lull in the presentation, I opened the MUNCH ADO app and allowed my mind to wander to the next item on my evening’s agenda: Dinner! Craving Mexican, I entered the term "Tex Mex" and MUNCH ADO’s search results provided me with options in nearby Union Square, East Village, and Gramercy Park.
Javelina immediately stood out because it was a restaurant that I’d struggled to get a reservation at earlier in the year (since it’s recent opening). MUNCH ADO showed availability within an hour, so I jumped on the chance and booked a table for one, hoping that I'd be seated at the bar. Upon arrival, the hostess walked me past the hungry crowd - as if I was someone famous - and sat me front and center: At a prime table all to myself. Normally, I’d feel slightly anxious about taking a such a large space (for four), but MUNCH ADO’s reservation confirmation provided me with reassurance and confidence.
*Especially nice: MUNCH ADO provides status updates on reservation requests. You’ll know immediately (and with some sort of pun) if your request isn't accepted/if there is an update.
Order-in attempt: Five Napkin Burger
My final use of MUNCH ADO was on a weekday afternoon when I attempted to order from Five Napkin Burger. After selecting my food/drink items and paying via the app, I received confirmation of my order. Twenty minutes later, I got a call from the MUNCH ADO headquarters stating that the restaurant was no longer accepting delivery orders. The staffer offered an apology and the gave me the option to pick up my meal (normally not an issue, albeit inconvenient, but that day I couldn’t leave my desk). As an alternative - and because I had ordered a turkey burger and a salad - the MUNCH ADO rep began naming alternative restaurants with similar menu items - you know, much like the app's search field would be able to do. If it worked properly. While the rep's knowledge of various menus was intact, so was my hunger (quickly becoming "hanger"). Since we weren’t able to find an option that matched my previous order, I surrendered the search - thanked the rep for her help - and took back to the app to order lunch at The Famous Cozy Soup ‘N’ Burger, another tried-and-true mainstay of the neighborhood.
- Despite their motto (“Search Hangry, Order Happy, Reserve Satisfied”), do NOT order with MUNCH ADO when “hangry.”
- “Order Happy?” Hmm, maybe at some point in the future?
- “Reserve Satisfied?” Yes! Then again, you can reserve a table with a lot of app-based options (ahem, OpenTable).
- There are some latency issues in the search parameters, and auto-detect/auto-complete both hesitate slightly when searching for a known restaurant.
- MUNCH ADO is ambitious, and if the aforementioned bugs and quirks are resolved, it could be a real contender in today's competitive market. However, it definitely has its work cut out for it.
- MUNCH ADO is an adventurous idea, a spirited concept, and likely to be enjoyed by millennials who have time to spare/who are ordering take out or delivery/future meals or for dine-in experiences. While I wasn't able to find an eatery with an order-in option (to have a meal prepared and awaiting for me upon my arrival), that feature in itself will make MUNCH ADO stand out from its competitors.
Until we eat again,
Edgar Castillo for The Lunch Belle