New Flavor Of Restaurants

Neal Ungerleider at Fast Company writes that New Yorkers are ordering everything from meatballs and sushi to tacos and burgers through online services like Seamless and Eat24. The real difference is that they’re getting their food from a new kind of venue, which he calls “ghost restaurants.”

Leafage and Butcher Block, for instance, “aren’t restaurants at all,” Ungerleider writes. These virtual eateries have been created by the Green Summit Group, which operates food-delivery services in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Chicago.

Co-founder Peter Schatzberg tells Fast Company that chains such as Chipotle or Pret A Manger dedicate 75 percent of their space to seating, while 90 percent of their customers just grab and go. Green Summit, on the other hand, can open a 200 square foot kitchen and “operate a viable restaurant business with a minimal footprint.”

Schatzberg says these are just like restaurant kitchens with sectioned areas designated for different tasks. Food is made to order, and stations are set up by category. There is just nowhere for customers to sit and multiple ‘restaurant’ brands are operating from within the same kitchen space.

In New York, customers ordering from Green Summit’s restaurants need to go through Seamless/GrubHub (which merged in 2013) to get their food delivered.

Ungerleider calls delivery services such as Seamless, Eat24, UberEats and Doordash “gatekeepers” for urban restaurants looking to build a delivery business in 2017. Without tapping into these powerful new delivery mediums, restaurants will battle to make a dent in the market.

These fresh models to make and deliver food will continue to be tested, tweaked and improved. Consider Good Uncle, a New York-based startup test-marketing at Syracuse University.

The company has bought licenses for recipes from established restaurants such as Croxley’s Ale House, Ess-A-Bagel, Joe’s Pizza, Sticky’s Chicken Fingers and No. 7 Subs. These places lack the necessary delivery service options and Good Uncle fills this void. The startup has bought the rights to recreate these well-known meals in its commissary.

Whether it’s partnerships with third parties or restaurants building their own delivery services, the trend is set to continue: People are eating at restaurants less frequently than they used to. The good news is that consumers still want the variety of choices provided by their favorite establishments, as well as tasting the offerings from many more previously unvisited eateries.

Established restaurant operators will need to reinvent how they get food on tables, even if those tables are inside consumers’ homes.

Images by: Zach InglisAlexandra GornRami Al-zayatAlex Holyoake