DMC had a lunch problem. When noon rolled around, someone would inevitably decide they wanted to go to Chipotle. They’d get up from their desk and circle around the office, asking everyone they saw if they wanted to jump on the Chipotle train. But “everyone” wasn’t actually everyone, since everyone isn’t necessarily at their desk at 11:58 AM. Some people would be on the phone, others in collaboration rooms. Perhaps they’d even be on the other side of the office, asking if anyone wanted to go to Taco Bell! And so your group would get back to DMC, burritos in hand, only to find some very sad people who missed out because they didn’t know where you were going.
Sam, Sudeep, and I were fed up with this. On our latest FedEx Day, which is a day dedicated to fun, internal improvement projects, we decided there had to a better way. An advanced, easy-to-use team communication and collaboration tool that served a single, highly-specialized purpose: to figure out what we wanted to eat.
And since we’re a creative bunch, we made exactly that and named it Lunch for Business.
It can be hard to get a large group of people all using the same new tool. That’s why our number one goal was to make this stupid simple. It installs with a single click, automatically launches on startup, and lives stowed away in your system tray.
When you decide that yes, you would very much like a burrito today, you can double click the tray icon, type in “Chipotle”, and hit suggest. At that moment, everyone currently running Lunch for Business gets a little balloon notification saying that a suggestion has been made. People can then click “Join” to hop on your bandwagon, or they can make a suggestion of their own.
Once you’ve joined a lunch spot, you can let people know you’re willing to drive others there. You can also click on the lunch spot to launch Google Maps for directions and check out the traffic conditions. When you’re ready to go, you can click “Leave” and everyone in your group will get notified that it’s time to head out.
Lunch for Business was adopted quickly and has become the de facto way of suggesting places to go eat in the Chicago office. The days of walking around in circles are long gone. Aside from fulfilling an extremely important need, the project has been a nice way to check out cool technologies like SignalR, Hangfire, and the Google Maps API.
We also used a variety of familiar favorites to build the application, including:
- ASP.NET MVC
- Microsoft SQL Server
A Closer Look at DMC's Noshing Preferences
As an added bonus, keeping track of lunch spots has let us keep statistics on where DMC likes to eat. Chipotle and Mariano’s dominate the list, with one of the two being suggested half of the time. But, thankfully, the other half includes a much more diverse list of places in our neighborhood. DMC clearly has some favorites, but we still like to explore different options.
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