Amazon Discontinues Its Restaurant Delivery Service

By the end of this month, Amazon Restaurants will be no more. First developed in 2015 as an Amazon Prime perk, the food delivery service was designed to compete with the likes of Uber Eats, Seamless, Postmates, and DoorDash. Current Amazon Restaurant employees have been moved to other roles within the company or will be supported in the process of securing employment elsewhere.

Analysts have been quick to note Amazon’s recent $575 million investment in the British food delivery service Deliveroo in May. During its four year run, Amazon Restaurants expanded from its hometown Seattle to more than 20 U.S. cities and briefly entered the U.K. market before closing the latter development in 2018. Deliveroo has successfully expanded to a number of countries including France, Germany, Spain, Australia, and Hong Kong.

With over 91 million monthly active users, Uber Eats is poised to take the lead in on-demand delivery. Like Amazon Restaurants, Uber Eats was established in 2015 — unlike Amazon Restaurants, it has continuously grown since its launch. Uber Eats currently services over 20 countries, in part thanks to its lucrative partnership with McDonald’s.

And the delivery platform will continue to be a threat to Amazon: Uber Eats intends to add grocery delivery options, putting AmazonFresh on the defense. AmazonFresh has been around since 2007, but its growth has been slow. In recent years, the company has abruptly dropped service in multiple U.S. states. The Uber grocery development team is already in the works, and will likely be based out of Toronto.

Despite its success, Uber Eats has struggled to establish a consumer-friendly fee structure. The structure was recently updated in March to address these concerns, but the update appears to be more confusing than the original design. Fees now vary depending on your location and courier availability, and a 15 percent service fee is applied to the subtotal of all orders. In The Barron Report episode below, host Paul Barron unpacks the new Uber Eats fee structure and predicts what may be ahead for the growing company.

How AB InBev's Sustainability Accelerator is Fostering Start-ups Solving Industry Problems

Consumers have new standards when it comes to the foodservice industry. They are educated when it comes to food sourcing, ingredients, nutrition, technology, environmental practices and more.

The big companies fostering innovation and looking to support companies that solve bigger problems in the industry continue to stay ahead of the curve, while also giving today's consumers exactly what they want.

On this episode of The Barron Report, Host Paul Barron sits down with Maisie Devine, global director of sustainability investments & accelerator at AB InBev to learn more about how the company is nurturing start-ups with a focus on sustainability.

So how does a start-up get involved with a partner like AB InBev?

Last August, AB InBev started its search by launching a set of challenge statements, focused on topics like packaging and clean energy. Then the company started accepting applications from companies that have developed some solutions to these industry-wide problems. After receiving 660 applications, there were a lot of companies to consider.

"We were really looking for a little bit later stage companies. That were product ready and that we could implement our resources and our scale to fuel growth for those companies," says Devine.

One of the fun companies Ab InBev select is the Belgium-based concept called Do Eat, which has made compostable and edible packaging from beer and potato waste.

Listen to the episode above to learn more about this unique accelerator program and how these companies are changing the food system for the better.

15 Restaurant Brands to Watch in 2019

When looking back on 2018, it was apparent that there were a clear group of concepts that were starting to separate from the pack in the restaurant industry. Restaurant closures topped at 50K closed locations in 2018– so the market seemed to have some correction.

While we did see some closings of lower performers in casual dining with Applebee’s alone closing over 250 locations in the past two years, the good news was the emerging brand's sector saw significant growth. This sector showed better performance in 2018 than any other brand groups.

These emerging brands consist of about 250 total brands that have multiple locations and are starting to take control of categories. Make sure to check out our 2018 Emerging Brands Report and to be on the lookout for our 2019 list.

sweetgreen-logo

All that said, my 15 brands to watch for 2019 are led by a group of leaders that I think have some unique and interesting aspects that put them in the limelight.

For example, Sweetgreen is setting a new standard of what it means to be a restaurant. The restaurant has morphed into a lifestyle brand or platform that will prove to be a new strategy for several brands that have the following.

lemonade restaurant logo

Lemonade is one of these as well and what separates the brand from the pack is its quality and the brand connection that is prevailing in a big way with guests. If they continue on a growth strategy this could be a player in the healthy halo sector very quickly.

Mod Pizza logo

Mod Pizza is another in this group that has clearly won the fast-casual pizza wars, now with over 400 locations and a management team that is geared toward people and culture this brand could be one to bet on.

Cava restaurant logo

My special mention would be Cava, while not on my 15 brands to watch, their acquisition of the Mediterranean fast-casual chain Zoe’s Kitchen creates both opportunities and challenges that I think are worth mentioning. They also have a rockstar group of investors that are a good reason to keep an eye on them.

Don't miss the episode of The Barron Report above where I break down why these brands have that X-factor.

Authenticity and Innovation Make up the Secret Sauce for Emerging Fast Casual Brands

In this episode of On Foodable Weekly, our host, Paul Barron, discusses emerging brands and how to be successful in the fast casual space. To shed light on this topic, Chris Schultz, Senior Vice President of MOD Pizza, and Eric Cacciatore, founder and host of the podcast: Restaurant Unstoppable, stopped by our remote set in Chicago to share their experience and knowledge.

A Clear Mission Is Key

Eric Cacciatore, the man behind the restaurant podcast empowering independent restaurant owners/operators to be successful, believes that fast casual brands with a purpose and story that resonates with their base consumer are the ones coming out on top.

“Society in general is trending towards the why, the reason behind everything...,” said Eric Cacciatore, who started his Restaurant Unstoppable podcast as a pupil to the restaurant industry and hopes of opening his own restaurant concept one day.

Cacciatore has learned that “...those brands that really do what they say they do, and live their brands… And their brands, are actually a reflection of what they are… they are not trying to be anything, they just are...” will be the brands coming out on top.

Chris Schultz agrees that authenticity is necessary because so much information is now available at everyone’s fingertips and this allows people to see right through a brand’s identity.

For MOD Pizza, millennials are not only their customer base but also this segment makes up their workforce. 

“The millennial folks want to stand for something and want to believe in what they are doing,” said Schultz. “I think other organizations are starting to realize they have to do that… That’s the ticket now, is to be involved in something and to stand for something more than just profits.”

Challenges Ahead

According to Cacciatore, bigger is not necessarily better, when looking to expand one's business and grow as a brand.

“It’s how well you do it and how well you develop that culture, how well you care for your people and developing them, mentoring them, giving them the skills the knowledge to be successful,“ said Cacciatore.

Schultz comments that innovation will be the biggest challenge yet for the industry as an emerging brand.

“At MOD we continue to innovate. Whether it’s on a product perspective or the way consumers want it, right? Whether it’s fast, digital, third-party delivery— whatever that looks like…,” said Schultz, who has been working for MOD Pizza since the very early stages. “At MOD, we consistently look and see: What’s out there?... Not just today, but six, 12 months from now, so we can get ahead of that curve.”

Watch the episode above to learn about MOD Pizza’s company culture and where these show guests think the market for emerging brands is going to be in the next five years!

Insights About the Emerging Miami Culinary Scene from Two of the City's Best Chefs

On this Foodable Feature, brought to you by the Foodable Network, as part of our Chef Insiders Series host Paul Barron sips some of the newly labeled Bacardi Gold with Jamie DeRosa, chef and owner of Tongue and Cheek and Juliana Gonzalez, co-owner and executive chef of Barceloneta. These Miami chefs discuss the competitive Miami culinary scene and how in the last few years renowned chefs are migrating to Miami, while new trendy concepts are popping up all over the city. Watch the full episode to see what and who are responsible for invigorating the scene and how to prevent the number one complaint– notoriously given to Miami restaurants– by diners, bad service.