Due to the loss of business stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, restaurants have had to find creative ways to increase their income. A promising addition to any restaurant’s operation is a delivery service that provides Blue Apron style meal kits. Blue Apron sends ingredients and recipes to customers, giving them tools and guidance to make tasty food from the comfort of their home. Obviously, people can search for recipes online and go to the grocery store to source ingredients. They choose not to, however, for several reasons.
Some people like the convenience of the delivery, while others like the fact that they’re delivered the exact amount of ingredients and can cook without waste. Less confident home chefs also trust the Blue Apron brand and appreciate the easy-to-follow, provided recipe, as they might get confused following more technically–worded, online instructions for a dish. At the end of the day, the Blue Apron service boils down to providing ingredients, cooking expertise, and delivery. Most restaurants already have these three resources at their disposal. Restaurants that want to effectively diversify their businesses should implement a local meal kit delivery service to capitalize on the market created by the COVID-19 pandemic and increase income when it’s needed most.
While it is natural for a restaurant to have concerns about adding a new arm to their business, the proven success of the idea, coupled with the readily available resources that restaurants already have, makes the decision to implement a meal kit service a no-brainer. It likely would not require more than one day a week to be successful. In preparation of delivery day, a chef could take however much time they need to develop recipes and allot for increased orders of inventory. The restaurant would not have to give away any secret recipes they may be particularly proud of as their chef should be able to curate new material or recipes not listed on the menu. While some chefs may resent the extra work, many would appreciate the creative outlet by sharing new food with their communities, especially given the recent lull in business caused by COVID-19. The night before delivery day, the staff could pack and address boxes with that week’s recipe and ingredients.
There are multiple route optimization apps for planning deliveries on the market, but MapQuest route planner will do the job for free if need be. Once the route has been set, all that’s left to do is send one or two delivery drivers to deliver the meal kits during off or slow business hours so as not to impact normal delivery service. The ability to delivery locally and by car, presumably with staff that were going to be paid anyway, is a massive advantage for restaurants over the actual Blue Apron service. Blue Apron pays national shipping rates for their ingredients, while a local restaurant only has to worry about their community, and therefore, yields a higher profit. Even though this type of system would not be successful with every restaurant, one with a trained chef, delivery team, and a strong brand within its community could certainly find great success with the implementation of a local meal kit delivery service.