Curated Food Delivery Startup Caviar Launches In Seattle And New York City

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Good news, those of you who live in Seattle and New York City! If you haven’t yet figured out how to get food delivered to your home or office, there’s a San Francisco-based startup that’s willing to help!

Caviar, a “curated” food delivery startup, is expanding its service into these two new markets, hoping to be the exclusive provider of food from a bunch of well-known (and loved) restaurants straight to your door.

The startup, which opened to the public in San Francisco earlier this year, is just one more in a long line of companies that seek to connect hungry customers with food that comes to them. It seeks to do so in less than an hour, ensuring that all meals are hot and ready to eat.

What sets Caviar apart is its curated approach to determining what’s on the menu — the startup partners with restaurants that don’t already offer delivery, hoping to become the “exclusive provider” of their meals on the go. By working with restaurants directly, Caviar can provide a higher-quality experience than you might get if you used some other, non-partnered service to order takeout and bring it to you.

Working with restaurants also means that its meals can be provided faster, since they’re often bumped to the head of the line ahead of in-store or takeout patrons, according to Caviar co-founder Jason Wang. That’s something that restaurants are willing to do, since most can’t fit any more people in seats but often have a bit of excess capacity in the kitchen.

One other advantage to using Caviar, beyond the awesome selection of high-quality restaurants you can’t order from anywhere else: It has a simple, flat $9.99 delivery fee for all orders, regardless of where they come from. Oh, and it also allows group ordering, so that you can send a link around to your coworkers or roommates and have them pick from menu items, without having to go through the trouble of writing down everyone’s selection yourself.*

All of that’s led to some pretty strong growth in its home market, Wang told me. It has about 60 restaurants on the platform now, with a backlog of another 20 waiting to be added. Customers are spending “hundreds of thousands of dollars” each week on Caviar, with an average of “one meal being delivered every second.” And most of those users come back, with about 80 percent of all orders being made by return customers.

Whew, Ok. The point is that Caviar is profitable in San Francisco, Wang says, and has been since March.

All of which means it’s time to expand and add new cities, right?

In both New York City and Seattle, Caviar will have between 15 and 20 partner restaurants at launch. In the Big Apple, those will include places like Katz’s Deli, Han Dynasty, Mission Chinese Food, Pommes Frites, and Caracas Arepa Bar.** (It’s also working on getting the Momofuku family of restaurants, which would be pretty rad.) In Seattle, restaurants include Pike Place Chowder, Japonessa, Wild Ginger, and Petra.***

It’s delivery zones are also pretty huge: In the Emerald City, Caviar covers everything south of North Seattle down to the Industrial District. And in New York, it’ll serve all of Manhattan south of 59th Street. Users can still group order, and the service will still carry the usual $9.99 flat delivery fee, but for a limited time — that is, through next Friday, November 22 — all Caviar orders in its new markets will have free delivery. Yes, free delivery.

Oh yeah, one final thing… While most people will continue to use Caviar for on-demand deliveries — you know, wanting food RIGHT NOW because they’re friggin’ hungry — the company added a new feature where you can schedule orders up to six days in advance. Having an office party later in the week and want to make sure everyone gets what they want from an awesome restaurant? Caviar’s got you covered.

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* This has proven wildly popular in the San Francisco office, especially between Anthony Ha, Felicia Williams, and myself when we’re feeling lazy and want lunch.
** As a former New Yorker, I can attest that all of those places are delicious.
*** These I don’t know so much about.