Ghost restaurants or not, the on-demand food business will always face challenges because, in the end, nobody needs delivery enough to pay prices that would justify the value of these companies.
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NYC-Based Delivery Startup Umi Stalls After Four Months
Somehow guys on bikes have been hustling hot pizzas and cold noodles around The City That Never Sleeps for years and yet successfully delivering ingredients around town has alluded many a recent upstart despite much larger investments backing them. The latest in a wave of shutterings is Umi Kitchen, whose goal was to empower local cooks to take on the burden of feeding their communities, satisfying both cooks looking for a crowd and customers looking to get fed locally. Turns out that even culinary royalty didn’t see this one coming, with Hallie Meyer (yes, the same Meyer) as CEO and daughter to Danny, citing “the trickness of making delivery economics work out for everyone involved.” Newsflash! We’ll have a large cheese, two slices of Sicilian with pepperoni, and a veggie calzone STAT.
Ghost Restaurants Are the Latest in Delivery-Only Take Out
Deliver me from yet another story about delivery, you say? Fear not, we’ve got a boatload more to cover. Stick with us. Now this is crafty: you don’t actually have to own a restaurant to do delivery! On the contrary, startups like Maple, Good Uncle, and Green Summit (more below) skip the storefront to instead act as a form of commissary for a plethora of dishes available at any given time to the couch-rooted masses. Green Summit scored an exclusive delivery deal with Seamless / Grub Hub, thereby avoiding the logistical hassle of just how to run a network of couriers around town.
As noted above, it’s proving to be the key to success here, so we’ll hold out to see where these guys go. Fast Company identifies one of the major issues as rent—the Green Summit model enables the “restaurant” to pop up just about anywhere there’s space for an industrial kitchen, thereby avoiding the overhead of pricey rent due to seating and curb appeal. The other highly unique aspect is the rotating, diverse set of concepts the company is able to provide at any given time. Like the Zara of restaurants, Green Summit’s kitchens can hop on a trend the minute it emerges (poke bowls for everyone!) without the slow overhead of traditional restaurant concepting, menu changes, and overall reality that no brick-and-mortar restaurant can change it’s whole experience overnight. Read to the end of this guy… it would seem that the most promising model is those who place logistics at its heart. After all, it doesn’t matter what’s on the menu if you can’t get it there fast.
The Restaurant Industry Braces for a Trump Era
Restaurant Opportunities Center United is leading the charge in banding together and protecting the large and essential workforce behind our nation’s restaurant industry from the 45th president’s looming anti-immigration, anti-woman, and anti-gay legislation. As this Civil Eats article astutes, “The restaurant industry is understandably on the front lines: Trump made it crystal clear during the campaign that he wants to deport all undocumented immigrants and build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.” This is serious news for restaurant workers, as the Pew Research Center estimates that at least 1.2 million in the U.S. are undocumented. And two think only two months ago we were dealing with this guy. WEEP.
- Yes, it’s finally happening in the Bay Area, but can someone please answer for us what happens when the robot runs into, oh you know, a small child?!
- In case you haven’t heard, the future is female and fab women in food are gathering to bring each other up. Join us.
- Poppin’ up in an oven near you… because buckwheat makes baking in January a-okay.
The Daily Newsletter
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Photo credit: Seamless and its peers often offer food from restaurants that have no other business beyond delivery.