Boise might not have a reputation for world-class dining or cutting-edge technology, but Crave Delivery looks to change that mindset.
In a confluence of fine dining, new delivery trends and new restaurant operational models, the company just launched in Boise and two surrounding cities. Menu items with a halo of James Beard and Travel & Leisure are made by local chefs in a ghost kitchen facility, then delivered by the company. All the consumer interfacing is done through a nice-looking app.
According to the company website, “chefs who were previously reluctant to offer their award-winning dishes for delivery, can provide amazing meals to enjoy at home without sacrificing quality or losing touch with their loyal customers.”
The service launched officially June 1, sped up to meet the new delivery demand of the pandemic. At launch, it had four restaurant partners: San Francisco’s Asian street food restaurant Betelnut; James Beard nominated Raleigh, North Carolina,-based Crawford Cookshop; Seattle’s Elliott’s Oyster House; and ESR@Home James Beard semifinalist Ethan Stowell’s “at-home concept.”
Chefs from all the partner restaurants trained local chefs to cook their popular menu items to be exactly like it’s made in their restaurants. Menu prices range from $9 for a plate of dumplings from Betelnut to $36 for the Prime Filet Oscar from Elliot’s Oyster House. The company also plans to deliver alcohol, but those options were not available at launch.
Crave Delivery is also working on a ghost kitchen facility to do the cooking, but because of the sped-up launch, it’s working out of a commercial kitchen facility for the time being.
Crave director of strategy Shannon Bloemker told local news organization BoiseDev that when the ghost facility is up and running, the company will have 16 total partner restaurants in the mix, all being made in that central, 15,000 square-foot facility. The company plans to open that facility in fall of 2020. That is a key differentiator, Bloemker told the publication.
“The biggest differentiator for us is that everything is controlled in one space,” Bloemker said. “The kitchens are all together and the employees all work with Crave. We can take the dishes that are crafted by the restaurant chefs and put them in beautiful packaging and give to an employee driver who is actually concerned about how that arrives.”
If this sounds a little familiar, it’s a lot like the vertically integrated model employed by ClusterTruck where the company controls the entire experience from the ordering to the delivering. One notable difference, Crave’s drivers are full employees, not gig drivers, according to job posts from the company.
This might be a novel way to tap into that smaller population of global foodies in areas that can’t support more than a couple fine-dining establishments and potentially give a better experience in those smaller markets. And with scale planned, the Crave model could prove attractive for fine-dining restaurants that do not trust the major delivery platforms with their food.