Lunch

Can Apps Make Fast Food Even Faster? We Put Them to the Test.

Who can pass the no-time-for-lunch lunch test?
Can Apps Make Fast Food Even Faster? We Put Them to the Test.
Image credit: Getty Images/Weedezign
  • ---Shares
This story appears in the October 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

A new wave of apps promises to make fast food even faster. But how good are they? We put four (all available for both iOS and Android) to the test. Bon app-étit!

Chick-fil-A One 

The promise: Customize meals down to extra salt and “lite” mayonnaise, skip the line for pickup and earn points toward free “treats.”

The reality: I felt all-powerful strutting into a crowded midtown Manhattan location and grabbing my bag of bird without a wait. And those free treats are a big deal: Chick-fil-A’s loyalty program -- which rewards frequent customers with items like soft-serve -- had been invite-only and shrouded in mystery for years. The app finally grants anybody entrée.

Taco Bell Live Más 

The promise: Make customized orders, get deals and maybe even play a game.

The reality: The app is eye-poppingly busy -- lots of scenic landscapes and pics of millennials having fun overlaid by text like “Time to Recharge.” At testing time, there were no special offers and the built-in game was “out of season.” Womp womp. One plus, such as it is: I could choose additional ingredients or condiments for each food item.

Starbucks 

The promise: Beat the line by preordering and prepaying for coffee and food. Cash in rewards for free beverages.

The reality: If your local Starbucks has fear-inducing lines (like mine does), life is better when you can grab a joe to go. Although the automatic rewards system encourages me to stay: I’d get free in-store refills. (Also, I’d get a free drink on my birthday.) Maybe next time, I’ll just grab a table to work at -- and order from there.

Domino’s Zero Click 

The promise: Open an app and a pizza magically shows up at your door. No further tapping or typing required. 

The reality: This is nothing short of evil genius: I open the app, wait 10 seconds without clicking “cancel,” and my favorite pizza (stored in my “pizza profile”) shows up about 30 minutes later. Good news: The self-loathing associated with buying a MeatZZa Feast Pizza all for myself drops precipitously when I don’t have to say the order out loud. 

Edition: December 2016

Get the Magazine

Limited-Time Offer: 1 Year Print + Digital Edition and 2 Gifts only $9.99
Subscribe Now