The Reo Eats Project – Using Crowdsourcing to Create a Restaurant

Thanks to crowdsourcing, one community’s culinary prayers will soon be  answered. In Lansing, Michigan, a group of professionals with backgrounds not in culinary arts but in communication arts, have been collecting opinions, ideas, and feedback from the very people they hope to feed: the local community. With only ninety days to design and open an intimate eatery, the Reo Eats Project, as it is known, has solicited feedback on everything from theme and menu to the ideal cup of Joe.

Through the use of Facebook, Twitter, and IdeaScale software which enabled users to submit ideas, the Reo Eats Project has not only identified the needs and wants of their future customers, but they have also created a personally invested customer base – a group of local restaurant-goers likely to frequent the place simply because they feel their ideas helped create it. Additionally, the innovative use of crowdsourcing generated restaurant buzz, initiating a word-of-mouth and social media advertising campaign in Lansing long before opening day.

With only a few days left before the grand opening, the Lansing community will no doubt be curious to see what the little diner on Washington Ave. has become. The community has served up a wealth of ideas, including a walk-up window, a counter-part food truck and names as diverse as “Tabula Rasa” and “REO Feedwagon.” Based on polls and website comments, Lansing residents have a yen for both home-cooked comfort food and vegetarian fare created with locally grown produce. Now it is up to the Reo Eats Project to sift through the data, pick out the best ideas, and mix them together in a way that leaves the customers craving more. Bon appetite!

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