Back when I lived in New York City, David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar was one of my favorite restaurants. Before he owned a multi-country food empire, before he launched his own magazine, before he started showing up on PBS*, Chang opened Noodle Bar and fundamentally changed the way I thought about food.
I had been to excellent restaurants before, but Noodle Bar was a revelation for New York me — it was simple, it was delicious, it was affordable. It was ramen. And pork buns. And a handful of sides that weren’t entirely pretentious in the way NYC restaurants too often try to be.
Anyway, I was reminded of how good Noodle Bar was when I learned about Maple, an upcoming food delivery service that has Chang listed as its “Chief Culinary Officer.” The service, which is targeting an early 2015 launch, will seek to deliver affordable, restaurant-quality food to Manhattanites who don’t want to cook and are too lazy to go out.
Maple aims to sell meals for less than $15, including taxes and delivery fees, and hopes to be able to get meals to customers in fewer than 15 minutes. In that way, it’s kind of like San Francisco-based operations like Sprig or Spoonrocket, both of which offer a limited menu of food options at an affordable price.
Chang will be the public face of the enterprise, ostensibly handling creation of its menu along with some other New York-based chefs. But the service will depend on logistics to power deliveries and get them to customers quickly. On that front, Maple’s operations will be led by High Peaks Venture EIR Caleb Merkl and former Quidsi director of product management Akshay Navle.
The company has raised $4 million in seed funding ahead of launch, which was led by Thrive Capital. Other investors include High Peaks Venture Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, 14W, Momofuku, David Chang, Blue Apron’s Matt Salzberg (via his Aspiration Growth Fund) and Kal Vepuri among others.
* If you haven’t watched Chang’s excellent PBS series Mind Of A Chef, you need to do so right now.