When Tri Tran and Conrad Chu were both young dads, they were desperate for time—and a decent meal beyond takeout. Seeing a need for convenient, healthy meals delivered to customers' doors, in 2010 the long-time friends created Munchery, a company that has served more than 275,000 meals—handled, prepped, and cooked by in-house chefs recruited from local, renowned establishments—in the San Francisco Bay Area. Building off its initial success, Munchery on Tuesday launched a website revamp, additional menus, and sped-up iOS apps to make ordering faster.
"At Munchery, we partner with chefs to put out awesome food for tables. That's really the gist of it," Tran told Fast Company. "On five weekdays of the week, we're selling more than one dish per minute."
Chu notes that the technology that powers the company's e-commerce platform runs "deep through the supply chain," pointing to how Munchery customers can make last-minute changes to orders even after they've been dispatched or communicate with drivers via text message to reschedule deliveries to a more convenient time. "The chef can talk to the customers. Typically, people don't know who cooks their food. You can put in special requests and do it at 100 times the scale," Chu said.
The site has been reorganized with larger photos and filters for dietary restrictions, and customers can view ingredient lists online. Meals are delivered chilled with directions to finish their preparation with an oven or microwave. Responding to consumer feedback, Munchery has shortened deliveries to one-hour windows, lowered prices (to an average of $9 to $13), added drinks and kids menus, and transitioned to sustainable packaging. The startup has also nabbed Bridget Batson, of Gitane fame in San Francisco, as a new principal chef starting in November.
The company also stresses its efforts to operate responsibly. To offset carbon emissions from delivery, Munchery plants trees through the Conservation Fund and donates a portion of proceeds to local food banks. Furthermore, food that would otherwise be wasted, such as last-minute ordering changes, is also donated to local non-governmental organizations.
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