With investor cash continuing to pile into the restaurant and delivery worlds, the biggest players are outlining plans to go their own unique directions. In a recent conversation with Caviar’s Anjarae Washington, head of Caviar For Teams and its new catering-focused acquisition Zesty, she said the company is preparing to take Zesty outside of its Bay Area home turf.
New to M&A parenthood, San Francisco-based Square/Caviar acquired Zesty in April of this year. Washington said the purchase included Zesty’s staff of approximately 30 team members who are now integrated into the wider company. Her new team is focused on finding the proper combination of Caviar For Teams, which coordinates delivery and pickup of group restaurant orders, corporate accounts and catering, and Zesty that is solely focused on restaurants looking to add catering to their portfolios.
“We had heard a lot of asks for … a more robust catering offering, and then also we heard that from our restaurant partners as something they wanted us to expand in, so part of my work in being so close to the corporate diners helped form the case for that acquisition,” Washington said.
A lot of that integration work, she added, includes working with her in-house product and engineering teams, as well as direct work with restaurant partners and the ultimate end users, which includes individuals placing large group orders to large corporate clients looking to feed their entire staff.
Because it’s based in California’s Bay Area, much of Washington’s client base includes small- and medium-sized tech companies that have clustered in the area. That also includes professional services companies and other firms that provide in-house catering or meals for employees as a perk.
Asked what will be the biggest changes now that the acquisition is fading into the rearview mirror, she said a lot of her team’s efforts are focused on asking end users about their needs and how the brand’s offerings should change to reflect those needs.
“We now have that full suite of products to be the one-stop shop for them. I think that’s the biggest change from a customer perspective,” she said.
Delving into what’s behind the recent surge of interest and investment in restaurant catering, Washington gave a very simple answer: “Restaurants really like catering, and this was something they wanted more of from us.” Specifically, she said, restaurants like the more predictable nature of large catering orders compared with individual orders that come in at all times from traditional third-party delivery services.
As far as the company’s planned rollout of Zesty to other markets, she declined to offer specifics, but said the company plans to “expand pretty rapidly” with a focus on the approximately 20 markets that Caviar already operates in.
She listed several synergies that backup the strategy of expanding to places where Caviar is also established, including having restaurant relationships and available couriers that will help to quickly bring the Zesty brand up to speed. Washington replied that it’s still unclear whether the Zesty name will disappear in favor of Caviar, which has wider brand recognition in its home markets.
“We really work with the restaurant wherever they are, so sometimes we start working with a partner just through catering and over time that works really well so they add consumer delivery,” she said of the expected evolution. “Sometimes it starts with just pickup because they don’t want to do delivery for a variety of reasons and then we move into delivery or into corporate after that, so it goes back to that restaurant partnership point.”