It starts with an incredibly delicious-looking picture of grilled cheese and tomato soup.
But beyond that, Jonathan Kaplan has bigger plans for his new restaurant chain, The Melt. Kaplan, founder the company that created the now-defunct Flip camera, wants to leave his mark on the fast food industry with grilled cheese and high tech gimmicks.
Here’s how it works: You visit The Melt’s website on your smartphone. You choose a sandwich and soup from the menu, and the site generates a QR code that you can scan at the store, skipping the line and paying through the phone.
According to BusinessWeek, the restaurant will also develop location-tracking smartphone apps so it can start preparing your food as you get close. A specialized oven, developed with Swedish appliance maker Electrolux, can reportedly toast a perfect cheese sandwich in less than a minute.
You may laugh at the concept, but The Melt’s Silicon Valley investors aren’t kidding. Sequoia Capital has pumped an undisclosed amount of money into the company, which plans to open 20 restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area at a cost of $500,000 to $1 million per location. Celebrity chef Michael Mina is on the board of directors and is helping with the menu. The Melt aspires to become a national chain for slightly upscale fast food, kind of like Chipotle.
But is the tech gimmickry going to help The Melt become the next great chain? I must admit to being intrigued by the location-tracking order concept. Fear of cold food is one reason that I avoid mobile ordering apps (like Chipotle’s), so maybe this is the start of a fast food revolution.
Still, that doesn’t mean anything unless you’ve got a delicious sandwich. Let’s hope there’s some truth in The Melt’s advertising.