(Screenshot via baltobites.glideapp.io)
Among the many local businesses in a precarious place during the pandemic, restaurants are perhaps the most visible. Not 60 days ago, they were at the center of our social plans and new menu items were enough to bring headlines.
Now, thinking about eating out brings notes of nostalgia for the bygone days of March.
Still, many restaurants remain open with carry-out and delivery service. And when it comes to supporting local businesses, there’s perhaps no option that fits into every day life better.
That motivated Beth Garner to tackle the project of building an app for the first time. BaltoBites, which launched last week, offers a look at spots in the city that are open for food and drink. It also has info on what kind of service they’re offering, and whether gift cards are available.
“For those of us who can afford to, it is a tool to support the local restaurant community,” Garner told us via email.
Garner has also seen the community step up to provide meals to frontline healthcare workers, so it could potentially be a resource for folks looking to identify restaurants to connect meals. (Hear that, FeedNurses?)
Garner, whose day job is director of corporate relations at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, had no prior tech experience. She said she built the app using Glideapp.io, which can take data from a spreadsheet and turn it into a user-friendly format. She learned about the no-code tool from Trends, a San Francisco-based market research group.
“In one of their reports, they wrote about the idea to use no-code tools to create a directory app in local cities to provide information around local restaurants still open for business during the COVID-19 shutdown,” she said. “In digging deeper, I learned that other Trends members offered to share the playbook on how to build the app.”
She soon learned that other cities, from Nashville to nearby Annapolis, had their own such apps, and decided to give it a try. The data was compiled by Rachel Lipton of local restaurant site Let the Tea Eats. After stumbling upon her efforts to get the word out about restaurants opening, she reached out and found Lipton glad to share.
It shows that with a little time set aside and a willingness to find the right tools and collaborate, a new resource can be put into the world quickly in response to a crisis.
“As for BaltoBites, we shall see how it evolves,” Garner said. “My strongest vision is that we do not need it; that restaurants open again and soon.”-30-
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