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The answer to “where do you want to eat”

“Where do you want to eat?” is a question that has been the subject of many jokes, memes, youtube videos, and tiktoks. Stephen Foster, Founder & CEO of social-eats, decided to do a study to determine how much impact this question has on how often we go out. The answer was an overwhelming “YES!” The respondents said they were about 60% more likely to eat and drink out with their friends if planning a group get-together wasn’t such a pain. So he decided to take it one step further and find out exactly why planning is such a pain. A surprisingly low 27% of people reported scheduling difficulties as the main reason they don’t go out more. Closely followed by indecisiveness with 22%, time and effort required to plan with 20%, difficulty picking a venue with 19%, Planning around dietary restrictions with 9%, and only 3% reported COVID or budget as the main reason they don’t go out more. That means that 70% of the problem is “where do you want to eat?” A question that remains unanswered, and the problem is 100% in our ability to reach a consensus among our friends. The solution is simply to answer the question, and we get more of those unforgettable nights out with the squad.

People will always have busy schedules, some people have a strict budget, and COVID will go away. These cant be fixed. But what about that other 70%? It certainly can be answered by looking at human behavior.

Indecisiveness is usually our way of being overly accommodating to avoid conflict, leading us to an endless loop of “I don’t know, where do you want to go?” So how do we solve this? We do what all great Americans do, and we democratize it. If we vote, no one is directly responsible for the decision, and our genuine opinions are more likely to come out.

Time and effort? One advantage to being the great melting-pot is that we get all the delicious food from all around the world. The problem is that the world is a big place, which means there is endless variety. So far, our best answer is to scroll through an infinite list of “Best restaurants near me” and hoping we can trust the reviews are accurate or remember hearing someone say something good about a place. Then if you are anything like me, you’ve forgotten which one had the dish you wanted to try by the time you have clicked through 5 options. So how do we attack this mess? Easily, we keep easy to maintain lists of all the restaurants we like, don’t like, or would like to try.

Difficulty picking a venue? Another consequence of our endless culinary options is our infinite supply of opinions, and some are very polarizing. I love a good face-melting vindaloo, but I am not the first one to suggest curry when I go out. What we end up doing is going with the blandest and safest suggestions because of inherent tendencies not to want to cause waves. Humans are social creatures and try to maintain their social circle. The easiest way to do this is to demonstrate a common pallet, leading us to suggest the same places time and time again. Solution? We compare our lists and pick options from our common likes. If you know everyone in the group likes a particular venue, it is easier to narrow down the plethora of options. Now we have a list of candidates for our vote.

Dietary restrictions? As a gluten-free and not by choice individual that has dated a vegetarian that loved her pasta, I can personally testify to the frustration this brings. It leads to a lot of mediocre gluten-free mushroom pizzas. Luckily we can just filter out restaurants that don’t have options that fit our needs.

That 70% of the problem can be eliminated with filters, data comparison, and voting. That 70%, that unanswered question can be answered in one hyphenated word. Social-eats

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