When it comes to apps for learning new languages, Duolingo is the unchallenged frontrunner in the market. The free language-learning app saw a huge influx of new users during the pandemic since people were suddenly left with a lot of free time on their hands. The app is renowned for its menacing green owl mascot that isn't above issuing life-threatening reminders if one misses a day of their lessons.
The platform has engineered a unique way to help users practice their Spanish, which is the top choice among foreign languages to learn in the United States. In a move entirely unprecedented for language-learning apps, Duolingo is opening its very own restaurant, Duo's Taqueria, in Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood, right beside its headquarters.
Duolingo's Taqueria offers patrons a special "español challenge" to avail discounts
Duolingo's restaurant "with an education component" will start out only as a takeout window at 5900 Penn Avenue from mid-June. However, they intend to expand the 2,580-square-foot space into a full-fledged restaurant with seating for 100 people by 2023. The food joint will be operational from 11.30 am till 9.00 pm from Wednesday through Sunday.
Duo's Taqueria will have Pittsburgh native chef Marcella Ogrodnik at the helm. Ogrodnik's menu will combine "inspiration from traditional Mexican techniques with Pennsylvania ingredients," as per a statement by the company.
The restaurant will offer a variety of Mexico City-inspired street-style tacos made with in-house fresh nixtamal tortillas. Filling options consist of chorizo, adobo-marinated pork, brisket, and tripe, in addition to a vegan-friendly alternative. Side dishes will include agua frescas, beans, guac, salsas, and more.
Explaining the app's unexpected venture into the restaurant industry, Charlie Barber, Duolingo’s senior experience designer, said:
“Duolingo is a Pittsburgh company, so we wanted to give back to our city with amazing food and discounts to show people that learning a new language can be fun and rewarding.”
How do you avail these discounts, you ask? This is where Duo's Taqueria reverts to its language-learning roots. After customers place their orders, they are given the chance to participate in the establishment's special "español challenge" so they can take a shot at unlocking discounts and other offers.
It may sound daunting, given its affiliation with the ruthless green owl mascot, but the challenge is not all that difficult.
A statement by the brand demystified how the challenge works:
“The challenge is a single, speech-based question pulled from Duolingo’s expansive curriculum. Answer the question by simply speaking, and the built-in microphone will assess your response.”
Ogrodnick added her own comments about this Spanish language-learning challenge:
"It's a good way to incentivize someone to get out of their comfort zone and learn a little bit about speaking another language."
If customers successfully complete the challenge, they will be eligible for discounts ranging from 10% to 20% off their meal or a free menu item like tacos or chips. The aim of having a variety of offers is to encourage everyone to take the "español challenge" multiple times to avail the different incentives.