retail news in context, analysis with attitude

New York has a story about Maple, described as "a new service with a commissary kitchen in Brooklyn and the first of a future network of delivery-kitchen hubs serving Manhattan below Chambers Street as of today. It has everything you’d expect from a newfangled 21st-century delivery app: a mouthwatering website, $22 million in Series A-round funding, a 'lightning-fast' algorithm. But it also has David Chang, recruited by the Maple team as chief culinary officer and source of the start-up’s culinary cred."

Chang, a highly regarded chef, "feels strongly that the future of food will be outside the traditional restaurant setting, in hospitals, schools, offices, and, yes, digital delivery services that offer good, healthy meals for $12 at lunch and $15 at dinner — tip, tax, and delivery included," the story says.

New York goes on to say that "while Maple’s tech crew designed software that plots routes and bundles orders to best ensure 'oven-to-doorstep' times of less than 30 minutes, the cooks endeavored to solve delivery’s most puzzling conundrums: which foods travel well (Moroccan chicken, baked arctic char) and which don’t (eggplant Parmesan, anything fried); how to plate and pack meals to survive high-speed bicycle delivery; which salad greens best withstand being vigorously shaken for six minutes straight."

Fast Company also has a story about Maple, in which it makes the following observations:
"By only cooking for delivery, Maple can develop recipes specifically to withstand a Manhattan bike commute—and thus, significantly enhance the potential deliciousness of the meal that arrives on your doorstep or stoop. Fried food, in Maple’s early tests, failed to arrive crispy. Loose sauces migrated; tacos arrived looking more like burrito bowls. So it adjusted its offerings accordingly. Maple’s focus is on getting the food as quickly as possible from oven to your door, because delivery is not a side business, it's the only business. Maple also avoids paying for expensive real estate, instead housing its inventory and most of its kitchen space in an old Pfizer factory in Williamsburg. It can serve more people with fewer staff, and the number of dishes it sells is not limited by a line that spills onto the sidewalk."
KC's View:
It's shame about the eggplant Parmesan...I would've tried that in a second.

I have no idea whether Maple will work or not ... but I find it fascinating as entrepreneurial-minded people try to solve puzzles in different ways, creating competition that didn't exist before.

The Fast Company piece is worth reading, by the way ... and you can check it out here.