Just as Airbnb challenged a centuries-old hospitality model and Uber questioned what it meant to hail a cab, we are taking a hard look at food and beverage service, and you know what? There’s a better way.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” — Arthur C. Clarke
Porter has always been a digital solution to analog problems. The original Porter platform was a digitized, projectable menu and inventory system that boosted taproom efficiency while subtly matching the venue’s aesthetic and melting into the background, where good technology belongs.
Over the past two years, the Porter platform, which now includes a consumer-facing app, has evolved to solve a number of problems facing the foodservice industry and its patrons: Long lines, limited seating, back-of-house time sucks, multiple card swipes at food halls. Each time a new problem arises, Porter finds a nifty solution — even eliminating inconveniences that we’d all accepted as “part of life,” completely changing the way we experience, well, experiences. Long lines for beer and hot dogs at ball games and concerts? Settling for overpriced room service on business trips? All things of the past thanks to Porter, which now partners with hotels and stadiums in addition to restaurants, breweries, food halls, and other specialty retail businesses.
We didn’t set out to create a comprehensive foodservice platform; we simply wanted to create the best possible restaurant experience. Porter emerged naturally as Drawn helped design and launch three Eugene, Oregon-area restaurants. When we considered the patron’s experience at each of these restaurants, we recognized that it could be vastly improved. Have you ever taken the family to a food hall and spent the first 15 minutes standing in separate lines because, naturally, everyone wanted something different? Or wished that you could order another round without packing up all of your stuff and crossing your fingers that no one would snag your table in your absence? Us, too. So, we decided to solve those problems and hello, Porter. Make that “Hey, Porter.” Yeah, that sounds better.
Armed with our partners’ years of restaurateuring experience, we spent 19 months developing Porter. Using our design thinking methodology, we started with empathy and iterative prototyping, which allows plenty of room for observation, feedback, and improvement. Porter underwent months of alpha testing at all three of the original “Porter Pubs,” and then a handful of beta venues before launching in January 2020. But the story doesn’t end there — the platform and the experience of using it continue to evolve.
You can think of Porter as the ultimate concierge service: Convenient, thoughtful, invisible, and at your beck and call. It connects users with what they need most in the moment and quietly eliminates all of those things that stand in the way of fully enjoying what they came to experience.
And how does it do all of this? Well, it’s basically magic.
Establishing Brand Personality & Culture
Before you build a business, you build a culture — and a personality to complement that culture. Then, of course, you build an app that is central to the in-house and out-of-house experiences that make you want to order another round.
Designing More Streamlined Side-by-Side Experiences
Porter is a service designed to make back-of-house life easier, save time, earn money, create efficiency, AND establish a better patron experience: no lines, no multiple swipes, more time spent with those you came to hang out with.
Who is Porter?
A porter was traditionally a quiet set of helping hands. Someone behind the scenes moving experiences along without a hitch. And that is what we’ve built: an app that delivers convenience, a tool to free up time, an experience that patrons will enjoy with friends and family.
Partnering with Square
Porter is a service that will, in time, integrate with a number of POS systems to allow patrons to order from multiple counters on a single tab. It has been Square, however, who has really stepped up to partner with Porter to launch this new app. As a beta testing Square Marketplace partner, Porter has access to dozens of Square developers, and even hosted four of them to toast the first trial. Cheers!