The University of Iowa

Blue Cheese app gains popularity

September 24th, 2014

From The Daily Iowan

Translator application Blue Cheese is rapidly gaining popularity among students and local food venues in Iowa City.

Blue Cheese is an app available on the iTunes store that translates restaurant menu items into Chinese with the tap of a finger. The app has had more than 80,000 downloads so far and is a "best app" winner on iTunes.

Employees at Buffalo Wild Wings, Old Capitol Town Center, said the app could be an asset to the restaurant.

“We have a lot of Asian clientele that come in,” Buffalo Wild Wings manager Cam Shriver said. “Some people have trouble ordering even a number on the menu, so I think it would help a lot.”

Ruihao “Ray” Min, the founder of Blue Cheese, said he had a very fitting tale of how he came up with the idea.

“When I was a freshman, I was on a date with a girl,” Min said. “We were both confused about what to order. She asked if I had a suggestion, and the only thing I recognized was a salad with blue-cheese dressing.”

Sam Kieffer, the manager of Old Chicago, 75 Second St., Coralville, said he thinks the app is “very innovative.”

“They came to me, and they wanted to feature our food and other restaurants for their product launch,” he said. “It’s very quick and effective. I was just blown away by how fast it was. There are a huge number of exchange students here, and it gets them out into the public more.”

Min said he is thinking of going even further with Blue Cheese to increase the clientele.

“We are planning to expand the app into other languages such as Korean, Japanese, and French by the end of this year or the beginning of next year to help more international students,” he said. ”We are also testing other ideas, like translating recipes into other languages to teach people how to cook food.”

George Etre, the owner of Formosa, 221 E. College St. and Takanami, 219 Iowa Ave., said he knows firsthand the app is a success in restaurants. 

“I think it’s a great app, and it’s very helpful,” he said. “We have two Asian restaurants as well as two non-Asian restaurants, and people still use [the app] there as well.”

Min said there is a diverse group of people working on the app.

“We have a lot of grad students working on the app, as well as designers from Purdue and market specialists from University of California-Los Angeles,” he said. 

Min, a recent University of Iowa graduate, said he is grateful for opportunities provided to him through the UI that helped him create and maintain the app.

“The Pappajohn Business Center and the Pomerantz Business Library are very resourceful for our work,” he said.

Min said he is proud of what he’s done to make people’s dining experience easier.

“It allows people to know exactly what they’re ordering,” he said. “It lets them order with confidence.”