Sprig Wants A Piece Of San Francisco's Lunch Hour

Sprig's aim is to make healthy meals—prepared with sustainably sourced, organic, and local ingredients—just as accessible as fast food.

New to San Francisco's lunch hour, meal delivery service Sprig on Tuesday emerged from a weeklong beta spent delivering midday meals to hungry workers in the city. Previously, Sprig only provided dinner service.

"We've always known Sprig would be about every meal, not just dinner," cofounder and CEO Gagan Biyani told Fast Company ahead of its beta test.

Sprig is taking a different approach to lunch than it does to dinner. Instead of delivering hot meals, the company opted for quick and easy recipes: sandwiches, salads, and wraps delivered in 10 minutes or less. "It's a different menu, which allows you to get your food even quicker," Biyani said.

Top: Balsamic chicken sandwich from the first day of Sprig's lunch beta, bottom: pork banh mi sandwich.Image: Alice Truong/Fast Company

Sprig's aim is to make healthy meals—prepared with sustainably sourced, organic, and local ingredients—just as accessible as fast food. "Your current options are terribly bad for you," he said, rattling off a list of chain restaurants. "Fast food has in a lot of ways transformed the American food ecosystem. It caused some really good things. People can feed themselves at least. They won't die [from starvation] for $2 to $3. It sustains you for the short term, but it doesn't sustain you for the long term."

San Francisco food culture has long emphasized seasonal and local ingredients—and the food startup space has been quickly heating up in the city. Though Biyani declined to comment on the size of Sprig's user base, he said the number of Sprig meals delivered has grown by fivefold since December. Earlier this month, Sprig competitor Munchery announced it had raised $28 million—the largest round for a food-delivery startup to date—as it gears up to expand to Seattle this summer. But Munchery hasn't entered the lunch space. A major player in the lunch space is Y Combinator alum SpoonRocket, which widened its delivery footprint to include San Francisco earlier this year, after starting out in the East Bay.

SpoonRocket and Sprig are both Bay Area startups that want to nourish people who are strapped for time, but the two companies have different approaches to lunch. Each day, Sprig offers three cold lunch options, one of which is vegetarian and gluten-free, and a driver delivers the meal to the customer's door. SpoonRocket, on the other hand, offers two hot lunch options—on Friday, it was white cheddar mac and cheese or slow-roasted baby back ribs—and two dessert items. About two minutes before the delivery, a SpoonRocket customer receives a phone call, telling him or her to meet the driver at the curb. This is done for the sake of efficiency, so the driver can proceed to the next delivery without leaving the car. Both companies have made different sacrifices to get meals to customers quickly: In Sprig's case, it's hot food, and for SpoonRocket, it's a slight inconvenience.

Before Sprig opened up for lunch, it built out its infrastructure, including a new dispatching system, to ensure meals arrive quickly. Biyani declined to say how many lunch orders came in during the beta period, but said he's "thrilled" with the response. "We've hit on a product that both the foodies and everyday people in San Francisco like, which is really hard," he said. "I think what we're doing is super powerful."

[Image: Flickr user int2k]

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