Lunch Order Coordinator

sandwich and fries

It’s 11:15, and somehow I got “volunteered” into ordering food for the team’s lunch-and-learn session today. There’s a great deli nearby that everybody likes, so that seems like a good option. Now I just gotta go around and get sandwich orders.

I’ll have the #7 special on rye with swiss instead of cheddar, no pickles, and extra mustard. And some barbeque chips if they’ve got ‘em.

Suddenly, it feels like getting orders from eight-ish people and entering everything into the deli’s web form will be one of the major accomplishments of my day. I’m not sure a phone call would be any less painful. (“Did you want the combo or à la carte? That comes with a drink and side for 50¢ more.”) Even if I stand there and call people over to put in their order on my computer, I’m still looking at a significant time investment.

I wish I could have everybody enter their own damn orders and leave me out of it; just let me know when it’s done so I can finalize the thing and deal with the expense report. The least data entry required, the better.

The Project

Build a web application that makes it easy to collect lunch orders from everyone in a group. You could send a personalized link to a page with form fields and a copy of the menu. When everyone has submitted their order, notify me so I can put in payment info and close the deal.

A basic version of this wouldn’t be too hard to build. It could even be just a <textarea> with some notes at the top. Hell, you could even use a tool like Surveymonkey to accomplish that.

The Tricky Bit

The real power of the Lunchordinator (n. [luhnch-awr-dn-ey-ter]) is direct integration with restaurant websites. I’m not even sure how possible it would be to do this in a generic way without resorting to crazy hacks. Maybe you could hijack a session cookie and pass that from person to person somehow as they add their orders. Or record web requests as they navigate between pages? Yuck. I mean, yum.

As a start, you could pick one major chain (or local favorite), integrate with that first, and grow from there.

Who knows—if your app catches on, you might even score some revenue from strategic partners battling over the billion-dollar lunch market.