March 28, 2021. It’s been a year since Ontario first declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic. For local restaurants, it marks a tragic anniversary. Amidst these times of a global pandemic, small and mid-size restaurant owners have been struggling to make a living, as they lost the grassroots and word-of-mouth marketing that naturally comes with in-person dining. At the same time, customers have been struggling to find local restaurants with take out or curbside pickup, as many have not been able to adapt to gain a strong enough online presence. That’s where we come in; Locuisine (a pun on “Local Cuisine" :)) provides users with an interface to discover and buy food from amazing nearby vendors, many of whom they might never have even heard of!
What it does
Locuisine allows users to input their postal code, as well as a search radius within which they would like to search for local vendors. The application will then display the list of local restaurants and organize them based on the user’s preferences, as well as show a map which portrays the locations visually. Such preferences include the type of food, rating, and the distance between the user and the restaurant. Users can then use this information to find local restaurants near them that suit their wants and needs, as they are able to view the restaurants’ rating, contact info, operating hours, menu, prices, and even gain directions. This benefits both the consumer, as they’re able to uncover new eateries and support local business owners, as well as vendors since they are able to expand their consumer base and gain much-needed traction.
How we built it
We built Locuisine with the help of numerous tools and technologies. These include:
ReactJS: We created our application primarily using React, as it allowed to build out the interactive UI of the application and effectively implement the functionality that we intended.
Google Cloud/Maps API: The Google Maps API was undoubtedly very useful to us as we obtained crucial location data, and it helped us to display the restaurants in a visual format.
HTML/CSS/JS: These languages were the backbone of our web app!
Challenges we ran into
Not everyone in the group was familiar with the same programming languages/technologies, hence some of our group members had to learn and experiment with new applications, tools, and tutorials.
None of us had any experience with the Google Maps API before, so it was definitely a challenge to sift through the documentation and debug, all the while effectively implement and display the fetched data in proper format.
Our group is composed of members across many time zones, hence we had to make accommodations for each other and change our sleep schedule in order to work with each other more cohesively.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Overall, we’re proud of everything we were able to put together in this tight timeframe, with the added challenges that come from collaborating in a remote, virtual environment. Most importantly, we’re proud of our application’s utility in the food services industry, as all the hard work we invested to create a working prototype. We gained a lot from this experience and had fun.
What we learned
Each of us learned something different while participating in WinHacks. Some of us learned graphic design skills, while others learned how to use APIs and programming languages. Ultimately, each and every one of us have learned something new about programming and put our skills into use. For instance...
- We learned how to use ReactJS to make responsive web apps
- We learned how to leverage APIs and packages such as the Google Maps API, and integrate them seamlessly into our code
- We learned practical skills, such as how to not lose our sanity working with and fixing bugs that arose - whilst fetching all the needed data, and how to collaborate despite extreme time zone differences.
- We also learned some graphic design skills, and how to make a brand
What's next for Locuisine
Locuisine is an effective prototype application as it is right now, but we plan on adding a variety of additional features and tweaks to further enhance its utility. These extra functions include displaying the available stock of vendors, an assistant to guide the user, and a system for customers to leave a review on the restaurant. We are also aiming to upgrade the user interface and to increase the application’s restaurant database. Most importantly, we intend on developing an option for restaurant owners to input their own restaurant’s information, such as the menu and special dishes. In all, we envision Locuisine to be a user-friendly application that can support local business owners and encourage customers to eat at places with curbside pickup or take-out.
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