One of the latest technologies to garner attention from the food world is the Web site Kickstarter, and it has already affected the restaurant industry in a number of ways. The Web site is a crowd-funding platform for “creative projects” in multiple disciplines–several restaurant owners have already used Kickstarter to raise capital toward opening and sustaining restaurants.

The Kickstarter team's definition for a “creative project” is vague at best, and patterns have already emerged that raise questions about whether restaurants are an appropriate type of project to harness this platform. So far, three patterns have taken shape: the neighborhood restaurant, the philanthropic restaurant, and the experimental spot, as evidenced by Colonie in Brooklyn, Mission Chinese Food and Commonwealth in San Francisco, and What Happens When in New York, respectively.

While restaurants use many creative elements, they also are businesses at the core. Thus, the best restaurant-oriented candidates for Kickstarter are those who aim to go beyond the conventional expectations of what a restaurant should provide. Ideally they will use Kickstarter's crowd-sourced funds to bring more to the community than what the charge for on the plate.

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