CEO Frank Paci Shares Why Corner Bakery is Considered a Catering Powerhouse

Having a proven strategy for your catering channel can take your restaurant from just making the margins to expanding your concept. The variables for creating a profitable catering channel are rapidly evolving, so best to learn from the best.

On this episode of The Takeout, Catering and Delivery Show, we sit down with Frank Paci, CEO of Corner Bakery Cafe. Corner Bakery Cafe is known as one of the top performing fast casual operations in the off-premise space with nearly 200 locations in North America. Catering makes up over 25 percent of its business.

We discuss how Paci views the concept’s off-premise business strategy, what his vision for off-premises is moving forward, and how the brand was able to build up its reputation as a catering powerhouse.

Uber Eats Data and Financials Have been Unveiled in Uber's IPO Prospectus

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For the last few months, the media has been reporting that the tech company Uber is on the verge of an IPO.

Well, it's officially happening this week. On Friday, Uber has released its S-1 financials document as part of the IPO process.

In this document, Uber had to disclose data on all of its companies, including its popular food delivery service platform Uber Eats.

Uber Eats is the largest growing sector in Uber's portfolio and according to the document, there are 91 million monthly active users of the platform.

"Of the 91 million [Monthly Active Platform Consumers] on our platform, over 15 million received a meal using Uber Eats in the quarter ended December 31, 2018, tapping into our network of more than 220,000 restaurants in over 500 cities globally," writes Uber Eats, as reported by "The Spoon."

Some of the other stats released by the company this week include-

  • The average Uber Eats delivery time is 30 minutes.

  • Uber Eats grew by $2.6 billion in gross during the quarter that ended in December of last year.

  • Uber Eats made $7.9 billion in gross in 2018

The company also claims that these findings make the third-party delivery app "the largest meal delivery platform in the world outside of China."

Although the company's popular ride-sharing app made it easy for the company to branch out into food delivery, 50 percent of first-time Uber Eats users in 2018 were new to the Uber app.

So what's next for Uber Eats? The company announced it has plans to expand into grocery delivery.

Read more about the Uber IPO and Uber Eats' financials at "The Spoon" now.

Late last month, Uber Eats rolled out a new fee structure, a move by the company to increase profits. Watch The Barron Report episode below where Host Paul Barron breaks down the new fees and the impact they will have on the restaurant industry.

The On-Demand Delivery Trends and the Technology Driving Them

The future of on-demand ordering could be summed up to one simple statement– It’s just beginning.

According to Foodable Labs, over 30% of the U.S. Restaurant industry is offering some kind of on-demand third-party ordering solution. Over 80% of consumers under the age of 35 are using on-demand food ordering apps about two times a week, proving the delivery segment has exploded thanks to the new age consumer and their dining habits.

The Big 6 are the lion's share of the market, but our research now shows over 100 on-demand food delivery companies serving the 1.2MM restaurant and food companies in the US.

The breakdown of Engagement and Sentiment tells an underlying story of these companies and how consumers view them and eventually, how restaurant operators may view them as well.

Engagement is scored by an analysis of how often consumers mention the use of the app or service on social along with an analysis of the Sentiment of the service based on food delivery speed, quality, accuracy.

The Engagement and Sentiment Scores of the Leading Third-Party Delivery Companies

According to this data, the Best Quality goes to the company Caviar. As the leader in the Sentiment area of Quality, this may be based on great service, but the company also recently acquired by Square. Remember Square is also a POS company and is tied to transaction-based business models. Recently Caviar added a spotlight that says "who's making your food" and has labels like women-owned restaurants. The overwhelming support by their users has given their consumer Sentiment score a boost.

Best Accuracy: Caviar came through as the leader in this area as well with a unique Sentiment score that showed this as one of the most appreciated aspects of its user base. Caviar's, along with other delivery apps', performance is being measured by the Chicago-based delivery search engine Food Boss, which is being led by the former McDonald's CEO Don Thompson.

Best Speed: Uber Eats takes this slot with what was one of the best Sentiment scores based on the overall app Sentiment. This has little to do with the ordering process and making a restaurant selection, which for most users ties into the overall speed of the order. As they continue to use their technology to analyze user behavior, Uber continues to have the upper hand when it comes to speed that other companies may not be able to pace.

I had a chance to explore one of the technology companies that has created a solution to centralize the on-demand challenge of being listed on multiple platforms mainly for discovery.

Ordermark has created a solution to centralize the in-store technology to create a more seamless integration into food operations which over time has become one of the most challenging aspects of the on-demand food ordering explosion.

Every restaurant operator understands discovery is the key to success and the solution in today’s world is not Facebook or Twitter, instead, it's being on as many on-demand platforms that you can handle. Alex Canter, CEO and founder of Ordermark and I discuss the growth aspects of the company and the delivery sector, as well as technology and operational challenges of the future of on-demand food ordering and where it might be heading.

The Catering Marketplace Company ezCater Raises $150 Million in Latest Funding Round

The online catering marketplace and software company ezCater announced this week that it has raised $150 million in a Series D-1 investment round.

ezCater has now raised $320 million in total. The latest raised funds, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and GIC, will be used to expand the company.

“This funding expands our ability to help our catering partners grow in a way that no one else can," said Stefania Mallett, co-founder, and CEO at ezCater in a press release.

ezCater, which claims to be valued at $1.25 billion, was founded 8 years ago. Since then, the company has made a series of strategic acquisitions.

Last year, ezCater acquired GoCater, another online catering platform. But the company recently made another investment to enhance its tools for restaurant operators. In March of this year, the company acquired MonkeySoft Solutions Inc. (MSI), which is a software that offers insights to operators on how to increase off-premises sales and profits.

"ezCater is having a huge impact on the industry by moving catering online and driving substantial profitability for their partners—this is a mission we’re excited to accelerate," said Brad Twohig, partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners in a press release.

On the ezCater marketplace, there are over 60,000 local caterers and national chains including Jersey Mike’s Subs and Romano’s Macaroni Grill across the U.S.

Users plug in their zip code, then a list of restaurants in the specific area on the marketplace pops up. Customers can browse a number of restaurants to order catering from, while also seeing ratings from past customers, pricing, delivery fees, and more details.

Want to learn more? Watch the video below where the Foodable team recently spoke with an ezCater sales manager to learn more about how the company is offering a solution that helps operators leverage their catering business.

Why Millennials are Still Willing to Pay a Premium for Food Delivery

We know that the Gen Y crew is using delivery services in massive numbers. So, what can restaurants do to hold onto sales? Or, better yet, grow those sales that are being driven around in the backseat of a Prius?

In some segments, delivered meals are hovering around 30% of top-line sales versus 10% just two years’ ago. The conversation is real and there are only semantic distinctions between sales within the brick-and-mortar and those that are on the road.

But why?

Looking for insight, go to the source. It’s not always having the answers, but merely asking the right questions.

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What is it about delivery?

It's all about convenience, duh!

From skipping traffic to getting food from A-list restaurants but avoiding the crowds, leisure time is in the balance.

“I prefer the privacy of eating at home after a stressful day, knowing the bathroom is clean, and the amount of time [delivery] can save me,” says Samantha, a 23-year-old in Portland, OR, when asked about her decision to stay home.

“Delivery apps allow us to see all of our food options in one place without searching through Google maps or Yelp.” Solo diners chime in, as well. “I want to enjoy food from my favorite restaurants without having to leave my apartment. I’ll also [order] on work trips if I’m running low on time,” says Jacqueline, a 26-year-old recent transplant from Houston, TX.

Collective dining is still witnessed in the wild by the ubiquity of sharing plates and communal seating. Some have a better time than most can dream, so they stay home - together.

“[We] don’t have to worry about finding a place that everyone likes. We can all order from different places and it will come right to us. My one friend, she gets Chili’s delivered to her house!” says Abby, a 23-year-old in New Castle, DE.

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Why not go to a restaurant for a meal?

The digital natives appreciate being unplugged from their surroundings. Interaction, though, is what happens behind a screen. So uninterrupted time matters. Abby jokes, “I don’t like servers constantly bothering me; if I want a refill or if I need something, I’ll let them know. Or I can just get it myself.”

Samantha, chimes in, “Crowds, wait times, not being asked for my ID respectfully - or being asked for it before I even order anything - is super annoying. Sometimes I feel like waiters and waitresses assume that we won't tip well because we are young and we receive poorer service than others.”

“I don’t like dining in [a restaurant] when I don’t want to deal with people or would rather [...] eat at my own place,” says Celine, a 25-year-old in Newark, Delaware.

The cost of dining on site has an expense that can be buffered by avoiding the restaurant. “Two pints of beer in Portland [Oregon] are equal to the cost of a six-pack. So for the cost of having drinks for two, you can buy beer for a week. When you order food in you also have your at-home entertainment, like Netflix or Hulu, which is also a big factor, and you drink whatever you want to,” says Samantha.

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Are the costs that ride along with the order an issue?

“Costs can be a problem depending on the restaurant, with many online sites such as Uber Eats, GrubHub, and Seamless; they add extra [fees] for delivery and have more out of pocket for a tip, like spending $25 on a $15 meal,” says 23-year-old Jamil.

Samantha adds, “Certain apps do not explicitly tell you the delivery fee price until you are about to click 'buy.' I think they do this so you are too decision fatigued to go back and pick something else, but we always do. Especially if it’s a place we have never tried before.”

Does the charge sway the decision? Apparently not. “I’m content with paying delivery costs, especially if it’s a restaurant I frequent,” says 26-year-old Fortuna.

While some delivery services put quite a pinch on operators to pay 30% of a sale, the customers placing the orders are an adaptable breed. “It’s still usually less than what you would tip a waiter. It’s still more convenient to stay in. I’d rather pay the delivery fee,” says Abby.

Is the trend going to last a thousand years into restaurant life? We only know as much as the tweezer-wielding cooks and the baked-Alaska chefs that redefine what’s hot and what’s not.

Until then, pack it to go and don’t forget to staple the dupe onto the environmentally friendly bag loaded with Brussels sprouts, fish tacos, and quinoa bowls. So, yes, Netflix and Chill is a real thing for millennials and it’s often paired with food delivery.