By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Apr 19, 2019 at 11:01 AM

When’s the last time you grabbed lunch for $1? Or breakfast? Or dinner, for that matter?

Beginning Monday, April 22 (through May 3) you’ll be able to do just that thanks to the Milwaukee launch of Ritual, an app that aims to take the headache out of ordering food at area restaurants.

Unlike apps like DoorDash, Postmates and Uber Eats, which focus on delivery, Ritual focuses on saving users time through the ability to order ahead for pick-up at area restaurants. The app sweetens the deal by offering incentives like Ritual Rewards, which result in discounts on future orders.

The app, which has been up and running in large markets across the nation, including Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Detroit, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Boston, has made its way to the Cream City.

To celebrate its Milwaukee launch, Ritual is hosting a $1 Food Festival April 22 through May 3, offering users the opportunity to try the app out at over 30 restaurants located in Eastown, Westown, the Third Ward and Schlitz Park.

How does it work?

The easiest way to see how Ritual works is to download the free app. During the sign-up process, you’ll enter basic information about yourself, including your name, phone number and email. You’ll earn 500 bonus points just for setting up the app and downloading a profile picture.

From there, you can use the app’s location-based search to identify restaurants within easy walking distance (or beyond), browse the restaurant's menus, order and pay for your food and get an estimate of exactly when it will be ready. 

You can also browse the app by cuisine, search for specific restaurants or view restaurants offering special discounts ("perks").

There’s no charge for using the app, and you can use it as frequently or infrequently as you like. However, you earn points for every order you place; earn 10,000 points and you get $10 off at the restaurant of your choice. Once you’re a user, you’re also eligible for special discounts ("perks") from restaurants, as well as bonus points for inviting friends, creating a list of favorite restaurants, leaving feedback about your order, participating in promotions and more.

The true benefits of the app don’t become evident until a user puts it to work, says Dain Laverty, North American partnerships manager for Ritual.

"We live in a world filled with instant gratification, and this taps into that," he says, "You’re able to walk into a busy place, pick up your lunch, and carry on. It’s exciting when you truly realize that you can have the same great dining experience, but lines are no longer a thing."

The Ritual app also features a "Piggybacking" feature, a social ordering component through which individuals working together in the same office can combine their orders together, allowing them to be paid for separately but picked up by one person. Can’t decide who should pick up? Individuals who pick up get additional points for picking up the other orders.

Get that $1 lunch

Milwaukee area users who upload the app and register with the code DOLLARFEST  are automatically eligible for the $1 food promotions at area restaurants between April 22 and May 3.

That includes options like breakfast sandwiches at The Coffee Bean, a bowl of pork tonkotsu ramen at Artisan Ramen, a sushi roll (sweet potato, spicy tuna or California) at Thai-namite, a cup of chili at Bavette La Boucherie, crispy Brussels sprouts at Blue Bat Kitchen, a patty melt at My Office, General Tao or Five Spice chicken at Bento Xpert, or chicken tikki masala at Bollywood Grill

The catch? You can only use the $1 offer once per restaurant. However, you can redeem one $1 offer per day for up to five days.

Still not sold? Here's the list of restaurants on the app:

  1. 600 East Cafe, 600 E. Wisconsin Ave.
  2. AJ Bombers, 1247 N. Water St.
  3. Aloha Poké, 220 E. Buffalo St.
  4. Artisan Ramen, 530 E. Mason St.
  5. Bavette La Boucherie, 330 E. Menomonee St.
  6. Bento Xpert, 1125 N. 9th St. (Restaurants at Eleven25)
  7. Blue Bat Kitchen and Tequilaria, 249 N. Water St.
  8. Bollywood Grill, 1038 N. Jackson St.
  9. Brick 3 Pizza, 1107 N. Old World 3rd St.
  10. Café at the Pfister, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave.
  11. Cantina, 1110 N. Old World 3rd St.
  12. City.Net Jazz Café, 306 E. Wisconsin Ave.
  13. Coaches, 1125 N. 9th St. (Restaurants at Eleven25)
  14. Colour Palate, 789 N. Water St.
  15. FreshFin Poké - Third Ward, 316 N. Milwaukee St.
  16. Freshii, 250 E. Wisconsin Ave.
  17. Holey Moley Coffee + Doughnuts, 316 N. Milwaukee St.
  18. Ian's Pizza, 146 E. Juneau Ave.
  19. Java Corner Café, 731 N. Jackson St.
  20. Marco Pollo 1125 N. 9th St. (Restaurants at Eleven25)
  21. Meat on The Street, 1125 N. 9th St. (Restaurants at Eleven25)
  22. Midwest Espresso, 111 E. Kilbourn Ave. (inside Milwaukee Center)
  23. My Office, 763 N. Milwaukee St.
  24. Pastiche at Hotel Metro, 411 E. Mason St.
  25. Pita Pit, 231 E. Wisconsin Ave.
  26. Red June Cafe, 773 N. Jefferson St.
  27. Riverwalk Cafe, 735 N. Water St. (inside the City Center at 735)
  28. Skyway Cafe, 626 E. Wisconsin Ave. (Gas Light Building)
  29. Smoke Shack, 332 N. Milwaukee St.
  30. The Soup Market, 111 E. Kilbourn Ave. (inside Milwaukee Center)
  31. The Soup & Stock Market, 400 N. Water St. (inside Public Market)
  32. Thai-namite, 400 N. Water St. (inside Public Market)
  33. The Coffee Bean, 624 N. Water St.
  34. The King & I, 830 N. Old World 3rd St.
  35. Xankia, 222 W. Wells St.

The $1 deals will be available through May 3. After that, stay tuned. Ritual runs mini food festivals seasonally throughout the year. So there’s always something to which you can look forward.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.