Phantom restaurant space, blinded by loyalty, make money while you walk around, and more


In this Saturday’s Frequent Miler week in review around the web, we have a number of fun and fascinating reads. Delivery from restaurants that don’t exist, the business of delivering all those airline meals, how to get into the blogging business, and a side hustle based on small business — all that and more in the weekly recap around the ‘net.

UberEats Now Delivers From Restaurants That Don’t Exist

In the latest indication that I need to encourage my son to someday go into data science, Gary Leff covers an uber-interesting phenomenon: UberEats delivers from restaurants that don’t exist. This makes total sense — I’m sure there is unmet demand in a number of cities and areas and restaurants could dabble without risking their current reputation or complicating their menus. Just a couple of weeks ago in Chicago, I was reading off restaurants in the Uber Eats app and was surprised that my friend hadn’t heard of most of the ones I was naming — now I wonder if it’s because they didn’t actually exist…

The Critical Points: It’s the Time of Year for Smart People to Turn Dumb

I really enjoy Richard Kerr’s “Critical Points” series at The Points Guy. His analysis is thoughtful and full and gives a good perspective on the hobby. I don’t always agree with him — I totally disagreed with him on this post for instance — but this week he writes about the poor decisions people make in the name of earning elite status. I couldn’t agree with him more. Maybe it’s because I primarily fly on miles and points (or otherwise on my own dime for the most part) and do not fly weekly, but I just don’t generally get the draw of airline status for most people who don’t naturally fly enough to earn it (I’ll give Greg a pass since he manufactures it at a reasonable cost and without time spent mileage running). For those contemplating a same-day turn to the far corners of the globe so they can have a coke and some trail mix in the lounge next year, see this post first.


Have you ever wondered whether you should start a blog? I won’t lie: I love working in this industry every day. I had kicked around starting a blog for some time before Greg posted looking to hire someone almost two years ago (Has it been that long? Man, time flies when you’re having fun). I often tell people that I hit the employment lottery back in January 2017 — I got started in this business at a blog I already loved with an audience already built and the best boss you could ask for. And what I’ve learned from Greg has given me an immense amount of respect for the work that goes into building a successful blog. And so I enjoyed reading Gilber Ott’s post at God Save the Points about what he’s learned over the years since getting started in this business. His enthusiasm for blogging is infectious — read this post and you just may find the inspiration you need to get started.

My visit to the airline catering factory at Prague airport

Appetizer from ANA business class

Head for Points has a fascinating and brief look at the complexity of an airport catering facility. I never really imagined the places that prepare the incredible range of food served aboard a vast array of airlines in one city in any given day. This looks like quite an undertaking in Prague — I can’t imagine what it all looks like in larger cities.

Job Spotter App Review: Hidden Money in Everyday Life

This post from Noah at Money Metagame gave me a chuckle — my first reaction was that this can’t possibly yield enough money to be worth the time invested. But then I continued to read through it and realized that it probably took no more time for Noah to submit three or four of these than I spent thinking about which card to use at the gas station yesterday (have I maxed out that Prestige 5x bonus I got? Is there an Amex Offer here? Am I forgetting a bonus category?) — and he is probably earning more than I did on my fill up. This app won’t make you rich, but if you spend time walking around a city or cities regularly, you’re probably better off doing this than looking at your Facebook feed.

That’s it for this week around the ‘net. Check back soon for this week’s last chance deals.

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Nick ReyesAnastasiaNinjaXMatthewNoah @ Money Metagame Recent comment authors

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Noah @ Money Metagame
Noah @ Money Metagame

Thanks for the share Nick, I’m glad you got a good laugh from my post! Your recap is spot on and the return on time is comparable to other shenanigans we go through in this hobby. Figuring out the best shopping portal for a $10 Groupon purchase comes to mind haha


When you brought up walking around collecting money, my first thought was that you had downloaded Shopkick. They dole out points for walking nearby and into stores at the most basic level. You then cash out the points when you are ready for a gift card to any major place. Your app goes crazy when you go to a mall, because all the stores it lists are cramed in one place and easy to hit all in one visit.

It’s a fun game-like app, that the more effort you put in, the more you get out of it. If you go from just walking into a place to then barcode scanning an item or two, you double your points. If you buy the item, triple it. I’ve had it for years and love it. It links up with your credit cards to track purchases too (and deliver points for qualified purchases), if you want to take it full level.


nick. phantom restaurant business models have been around for a long time. unless you were somehow involved in the food bev industry, you would never know as the customer never really cares as long as food and price makes sense.

i could write a super long article on this, but in summary, these have been called “underground” or “popup” style restaurants, made more mainstream with food trucks and karts during the past 5 years. almost all digital food delivery companies do business with “phantom restaurants” because they produce food faster and more consistent when customers want it. this is because they DO exist. they ARE real. they just dont have a storefront. so-called “real” restaurants are too busy with their actual store and serving their customers. they have way too much overhead. this is why the chipotle is the god-father of the “fast-casual” business model of dining and revolutionized the food/bev industry. less overhead. more food production. streamline everything like a cafeteria. but phantom restaurants do it even better because customers dont bother them in person. many times, they have InNOut limited style menus with only 5 items or limited quantity. this allows an “underground” popup to produce mass quantities of an entree. reducing variables is key.

these large restaurants are bulky and slow. they cant keep up with the digital food delivery services. so this leads to a very hot commercial kitchen “rental space” business. many restaurants are very wasteful with their commercial kitchens. therefore, services exist that broker unused kitchen space and time. this is where “underground” restaurants thrive who are new entrepreneurs and want to make it mainstream. they advertise as “delivery only” but they still have FULL support like a restaurant. maybe call centers. customer service. logo. website. pick-up, etc etc. these have somewhat become the “secret” popup restaurants that super yelper foodies love to hunt down.

anyway, ranting too long.


I’ve been using JobSpotter for a while now. I was visiting my parents, who live in a college town, in late August/early September, when all the stores and cafes are hiring students for part-time jobs. Boy did I cash in! I made about $40 just walking around campus for an hour, and it was a nice time, too, getting to see how the town had changed since I’d last been there.