It’s been just over a year since we took our first look at Munchery, the San Francisco-based startup that delivers meals from professional chefs to your doorstep at an affordable price, and over that time the company has made great strides.
Last Friday the company expanded beyond the city to start serving Marin, with plans to add the East Bay and the peninsula down the road.
Munchery’s chefs now cook most of their scrumptious meals from the company’s 12,000-square-foot kitchen in the Mission District. A five-person delivery team delivers hundreds of meals within a one-hour window all over the city, every day.
The company also partners with Taskrabbit for deliveries and it sounds like that may be how it will handle deliveries north of the Golden Gate. There will likely be a two or three hour time window for deliveries outside the city, given the logistics of moving the food from its kitchen across the bridge to cities like San Rafael.
Co-founder Tri Tran says Munchery has served some 20,000 meals to date and that fully 46 percent of those who have tried the service out have become repeat customers.
Around 14 percent order five meals per month, with a smaller group using Munchery on a daily basis.
This growth has allowed the company to lower the average price of a meal to the $12-14 range from the $18-19 range last year at this time.
There’s an “early bird” option that lets you lower the price by another 20-30 percent – if you order by 10 am the day before you want the food delivered.
“Our mission is to bring personal chefs to the masses,” says Tran. “And we’re not only founders of the company, we’re clients as well. So we’re thrilled to be able to bring the prices down.”
A month ago, Munchery launched its iPhone app, and so far hundreds of San Franciscans are ordering meals that way, although the majority still access the service on the web.
"The iPhone app is promising, because it allows us to alert you to daily menu options without you having to check email,” says Tran. “We can bypass all that. Plus we make it really simple to order – all it takes is a few taps.”
The company is gathering customer feedback from those who download and use its app, and will incorporate that into updates as well as an android-compatible version in the future.
There is a group of about 20-25 chefs who work regularly serving Munchery’s customer base and another 10-15 who cook now and then, when they have an opening in their schedule.
“We’re being very, very selective with our chefs,” says Tran. “Lot of chefs are knocking on our door, but we want to make sure they really have the culinary repertoire and the ability to create new meals."
The company’s lineup of chefs include the original sushi chefs at Google’s headquarters, as well as people who’ve cooked at Zuni and Chez Panisse.
Although the top customer group to date can be characterized as “busy professionals,” a growing portion of the market is composed of parents with young kids (many of whom, of course, are also busy professionals.)
The company also handles catering and large orders to companies or parties.
Munchery has plans to develop a program through tying in with Facebook to allow people to order meals for families when a new baby arrives. “We are excited about this, and it’s coming soon,” says Tran.
One development that has surprised the small team running the company is the strong demand for meals by people with special needs – gluten-free food, for example, or vegetarians.
“We will probably be developing special programs for these groups of people,” says Tran. “Because they have more limited choices out there they tend to come to us more often than people who don’t have those limitations.”
Munchery is growing at a rate of 40-50 percent month over month now, and has reached a run rate where Tran is comfortable describing it as a “million-dollar company.”