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Editor’s Note: In September we announced that Skift was expanding into food and drink with the addition of the Chefs+Tech newsletter.
We see this as a natural expansion of the Skift umbrella, bringing the big-picture view on the future of dining out, being fanatically focused on the guest experience, and at the intersection of marketing and tech.
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Yum Brands Invests $130 Million to Make Pizza Hut Relevant Again
National chain pizza delivery is hotter than anyone thought it would be in a market full of startups and new-restaurant buzz, perhaps fueled by the marketing, research, development, and advertising Domino’s has prioritized in recent years. What’s a runner-up to do? In a recent earnings call, Yum Brands, parent company of Pizza Hut, announced a $130 million investment to revitalize the brand. Yum likened the investment to a similar investment in KFC in 2015; the brand has seen consistent growth since.
The money will go to digital and marketing efforts, according to Yum, though analysts aren’t sure it’s enough to help Pizza Hut with its market share. For its part, Pizza Hut announced its own delivery tracker on Monday, enabling customers to track their orders as they’re prepared and delivered. Customers also have the option to receive text messages about their order status without opening the app, “a first in the national pizza industry,” according to the press release.
New York’s Hudson Yards Project scores Major Talent
It’s a restaurant… and a grocery store… and a “groundbreaking take on the food hall concept featuring the very best that Spain has to offer.” That’s what Chef Jose Andres has planned for his new 35,000-square-foot (!) food hall in the new Hudson Yards project, which sounds fantastic on its own — but wait, there’s more. Brothers Ferran and Albert Adria have joined the project, which will be developed in the spirit of Barcelona’s Boqueria — swoon. It’s the first U.S.-based project for the Adrias, who have overseen such successes as El Bulli and Tickets in Spain. Andres and team join a growing list of high-profile restaurateurs (Thomas Keller and David Chang are signed on, too) who will create a serious food-centric destination in Manhattan’s West 30s.
TripAdisor Announces GrubHub Partnership
This week TripAdvisor announced a new partnership with GrubHub, allowing travelers and locals alike to order food with one click from a TripAdvisor listing page. The deal services “tens of thousands” of restaurants in 1,100 U.S. cities. As travelers increasingly seek out home-like experiences away from home (Airbnb’s massive success is alone evidence of this), adding a direct line to delivery from a TripAdvisor restaurant listing will both increase GrubHub’s business and please consumers who prefer less legwork when it comes to their on-demand food. It’s like a “buy now” button for food to go.
Maple Delivery Service Closes in NYC
After two years of business, New York delivery service Maple announced its closure on Monday, selling to London-based Deliveroo. Maple operated differently than traditional delivery services; instead of delivering other restaurants’ food, Maple prepared and delivered its own meals independent of any restaurant. In January, Recode published leaked documents from the delivery startup that showed it lost money on every meal it prepared.
In a letter to customers and supporters, Maple’s founders explained that, while they had built solid technology to help streamline the food delivery process in New York, the delivery business is fundamentally challenging to navigate. (The CEOs of plenty of delivery startups, past and present, will totally agree with you.) Chef David Chang invested in Maple early and joined the team to develop a few recipes with the intention of helping the team to find a permanent chef. He has since distanced himself from the operation, focusing on his own delivery business, Ando.