Michael Wenye Li / Sun Senior Photographer

Eatery app now features Collegetown restaurants in addition to campus eateries.

May 2, 2019

Eatery App Now Features Both Collegetown Restaurants and Campus Eateries

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For many Cornellians, finding the closest and best place to eat has always been a struggle.

Luckily, Eatery — an app that allows its users to browse menus and discover places to eat on Cornell’s campus — has often come to their rescue. And on April 19, Eatery’s app development team announced a new updated version, which will now provide information about Collegetown’s restaurants in addition to on-campus eateries.

First launched on the iOS platform in Spring 2016, Eatery’s Android version debuted last semester according to Catherine Zhang ’22, the marketing & operations lead of CU AppDev, the project team which created the app.

Currently, the app boasts over 2,500 daily users and more than 6,000 users per month, Conner Swenberg ’21, leader of the app team — which is referred to as a “Pod” — told The Sun.

Before this update, Eatery was mainly used to help users browse what dining halls or cafes were open. Users could also see the hours and menu of each location, as well as their relative distance from the on-campus eatery in live time.

The latest update to the app includes general information like operational hours and phone numbers for Collegetown restaurants as well. Users can also compare star ratings, price indicators and use the location information to direct them to these restaurants, Swenberg said.

Another updated feature: users can now filter eateries by distance as well as the type of food desired.

“[Users] are able to filter by different tabs. If you just want to search for bubble tea, you can press the bubble tea filter and get access to U Tea and Kung Fu Tea,” said Connor Reinhold ‘22, Android lead of Eatery.

Speaking of why the team decided to include Collegetown eateries, Swenberg suggested that it was a way to expand its service to people living in Collegetown and provide more value to the entire Cornell community.

“We took a look at user base last semester … and realized that a lot of students who moved off campus don’t go to dining halls anymore,” Swenberg said. “As such, they don’t use the app anymore. And [in that way] we lose valuable users.”

Looking forward, the App development team expects to incorporate menus for Collegetown restaurants, which will likely roll out next semester. Zhang will lead this effort.

As Zhang told The Sun, the team currently uses data from Yelp’s application programming interface, which is not very comprehensive. Many of the menus are out of date. And for some places, like bubble tea stores, Yelp just doesn’t have all the information on the menu.

“[My job is] to talk to the restaurant owners and get them on board. Establishing these relationships will help us add more details and make [the menus] more comprehensive,” said Zhang.

The team is also working on other initiatives to improve, including ways to expand the menus for BRB-only places like Atrium Cafe, which currently has a menu provided by Cornell that does not reflect all the choices.

“We are also thinking about new ideas for next semester like sending notifications [and allowing] people to suggest new menu items in the app,” Reinberg said.

Asked if a future update will include more restaurants in areas like the Ithaca Commons, Swenberg said they must conduct more user research to decide its value before investing their efforts.

“[W]e see as better fits, for the time being, to improve first, but Commons is definitely something you can see in future years,” Swenberg said.