The Haitian Times
Bridging the gap
By Onz Chery
Tanis Tamar, 47, had a craving for Haitian-made fish — red snapper — as he was driving with his fiancee in the summer of 2019 in Florida. The couple called a Haitian restaurant at least 10 times to ask if they had fish but they never answered.
When they reached the restaurant, it was swamped. After waiting on line, the couple was told that the kitchen was out of fish.
Tamar called another Haitian restaurant, this one picked up and they had fish. But after driving there for about 45 minutes, they had already given the last fish to someone else.
Tamar had fish from an American restaurant that night.
“I was really mad,” he said to The Haitian Times. “Why couldn’t we find a better way to fix this nowadays?”
Tamar is working on fixing this issue with Tap Tap Now. Tap Tap Now is an app that provides the location, direction, and phone number of Haitian restaurants and catering businesses worldwide. The first version was launched on Dec. 22, 2019. Real-time menus and online ordering is available in the United States but for limited restaurants because the app is still in progress.
Several Haitian restaurants don’t have the number of employees needed to serve the amount of traffic they get or aren’t available via the internet. Technological assistance for either customer service and promotion is desperately needed. Tamar explained that a customer can spend 10 to 15 minutes on the phone with a Haitian restaurant just to talk about the menu, which means many other customers could be calling and won’t get an answer. Tap Tap Now’s real-time menus will solve this problem.
“The whole point of the app is to try to fix this [customer traffic],” he said. “The way I look at it it’s like a partnership between us and the restaurants and it’s a tool that’s supposed to improve the customer service for Haitian restaurants. The person in front will have more time to serve the customers that are in the store and they won’t have to deal with all those calls coming in.”
One of the strengths of the app is that it’s extremely easy to use without any unnecessary options. The list of Haitian restaurants near your location automatically pops up. To locate Haitian restaurants elsewhere, you simply type the ZIP Code of the desired area. And menus are easily available by just selecting a restaurant.
Vladimir Antoine, an application analyst at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer, 30, noted how crucial simplicity is.
“The layout is fairly simple, you know,” Antoine said about Tap Tap Now. “It’s straight forward. You put your ZIP Code and you find a restaurant. I like that a lot. Whenever something is easy to your eyes, easy to navigate it’s always helpful. The simple, the better.”
Tap Tap Now was downloaded 1,000-plus times and has the location of 398 Haitian restaurants and catering businesses, from London to Hawaii to Haiti. There are 111 restaurants in Haiti specifically on the app.
Restaurants that provide delivery services will have the option to implement that through the app, but Tap Tap Now itself isn’t a delivery app.
Of course, there are other apps that provide restaurants’ menus, locations, and do deliveries. Tamar said Haitian food eaters won’t have to check different apps to find a particular Haitian restaurant anymore, they can simply download Tap Tap Now.
Despite all the hard work Tamar put in, he hasn’t made any profit through the app yet. His way of making revenue is through takeout orders. Tap Tap Now receives 15 percent of every online purchase. None of the users have ordered online yet, partly because the options are few. Only one Haitian food business agreed to offer takeout via Tap Tap Now, 1804 Fyete (Pride in English) Catering Service. They’re located in Long Island.
Haitian food services are reluctant to partner with Tap Tap Now because they don’t believe that a fellow Haitian enterprise will thrive. Sandy Pierre, 1804’s owner, looked beyond this stereotype and saw Tap Tap Now’s value.
“It will help people locate where I am, make it easier for people to see the menu,” Pierre said. “Basically, it’s going to make things more efficient, especially for people who are far away, don’t really know the area. I think it’s a really good tool, especially because we don’t have that in our community.”
Although Tamar isn’t stacking up revenue yet, the expenses are many. He pays for marketing, social media management, the app’s web development, and so on — all out of pocket. Tamar knew that for the first year his expenses would be much higher than his income, but he dropped his 20-plus year career in real estate to focus on the app full-time because he sees the need for it and wants it to be as eminent as possible.
“When I told you I’m all in, I’m all in,” Tamar said. “I want this thing to be as good as anything else, as good as DoorDash, Grubhub, anybody else.”
As mentioned, it’s hard for Tamar to find Haitian restaurants to partner with but it wasn’t much of a hassle to find Haitian employees. Tap Tap Now’s web developmental team is based in Haiti. Sandyna Jerome, a 26-year-old web developer who took part in an app that helps people in Haiti get in touch with notaries, Note Peyim (The Notary of My Country in English) is part of Tap Tap Now’s team.
Being based in Haiti, Tap Tap Now’s web developers face many setbacks such as a lack of electricity and slow Wi-Fi. Nevertheless, they share Tamar’s eagerness of making Tap Tap Now the cream of the crop in the Haitian food industry.
“The difficulty we found isn’t really within the app but more so because of the state of the country,” Jerome said. “[But] I wish that this application has as much success as possible. I hope everyone is satisfied with it, the clients, the restaurants, and us.”
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Onz Chery started his journalism career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He later wrote for First Touch, local soccer leagues in New York and ESNY before joining The Haitian Times. Onz is also a Report for America corps member.
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by Onz Chéry, The Haitian Times
July 3, 2020
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