The first time I heard the term “ethical dining” I assumed it meant eating locally grown, organic food. Instead, it refers to our complicity through consumption in questionable business practices that plague the restaurant industry. It’s very easy to forget when you’re dining out that there are a ton of people involved in that experience: waiters, bussers, cooks, dishwashers, etc. Restaurant Opportunity Centers (ROC) United is an advocacy group that works on behalf of workers in the food service industry to improve their living conditions.
Every year ROC United catalogs wages, benefits, and promotion practices of 150 of the most popular restaurants in America and publishes the Diners’ Guide to Ethical Eating. In 2012, I was approached by ROC to create a mobile version of their guide.
Working with the ROC United staff, I developed an Android and iOS version of their dining guide. In addition to creating the app, I provided ROC with an administrative web interface to add, remove, and update restaurant listings.
Now that the app has been released to the general public, we have had time to reassess the application’s design and purpose. The new app has been completely overhauled to allow user reports to be submitted. As a small organization, the app will allow ROC to crowd source the initial scouting of restaurants to grow their database and serve locations that fall outside of their current metro areas. Additionally, the database has been completely redesigned to allow for finding chain restaurants regardless of having their location information.
The app has received considerable press attention, with articles on NPR, Forbes, Grubstreet Philadelphia, the Huffington Post, and Epicurious. The app was an Appy Award Finalist, won second place in the AEJMC Best of Web Competition for 2015, and has received a Communicator Award of Distinction. It can be downloaded on iTunes and Google Play.