Square's Caviar Is Another Food Ordering Service Player in the Delivery Space

Have you ever tried Caviar? No. I don’t mean the pickled roe of sturgeon eaten as a delicacy.

Caviar is a food ordering service for popular restaurants that was acquired in August of 2014 by Square, Inc., the business tools company famous for its point-of-sale software.

What’s interesting about this platform is that it only features a hand-curated list of restaurant partners.

“We have teams with deep local knowledge that hand-curate our restaurant list focused on working with the best restaurants in every city across cuisine types and price points,” said Nick Adler, Caviar’s market operations lead. “Our close restaurant partnerships, in combination with our full logistics and marketing solution, enable Caviar to offer quick and reliable delivery and pickup, helping businesses to reach more customers, grow their sales, and expand their reach.”

Since the acquisition, Caviar’s weekly order volume has grown more than 11 times according to Adler, who’s been working for the company for over two and half years leading all locals teams that work with the couriers and restaurants on the ground in each market the platform serves. “Delivery and pickup are great ways for restaurants to grow sales beyond their tables, which is aligned with Square’s founding mission to ensure that a seller never misses a sale,” explains Adler referring to the reason why Square decided to get into the food delivery business.

To further Square’s mission, Caviar provides a variety of cross-channel, co-marketing services for restaurant partners, which includes in-app alerts and banners, email, and social mentions. In addition, professional photography of each restaurant and every dish available for delivery is provided by the San Francisco-based company. 

One of Caviar’s exclusive restaurant partners is Souvla, a greek-inspired fast casual concept that continues to expand in the Bay Area. The restaurant’s owner, Charles Bililies, told the San Francisco Chronicle, “In 2014, delivery was zero percent of the business...now, it’s about 24 percent of the business, which is pretty remarkable,” leading him to take into account orders from Caviar with each new location opening. This explains the need to food delivery services like Caviar, UberEATS and Postmates, to name a few.

Caviar has partnered with thousands of restaurants across the country, featuring high-profile chefs like Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen, Rick Bayless of XOCO and Red O, Ken Oringer of Coppa and Toro and recognized restaurant groups like Garces Group in Philadelphia and The Meatball Shop in New York. The platform operates in specific areas, in the following locations: California, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington State.

To learn more about Caviar, Foodable asked Nick Adler the following questions:

How does Caviar differentiate itself from its competitors?

Adler: Without referring to specific competitors, many of them don’t have a true partnership with restaurants and place phone orders without partnering with them. We are 100% focused on food. We don’t transport people, retail products, or other non-food items. Due to this focus on food, we’ve built unique competencies around food delivery - inclusive of presentation, packaging, operations and logistics - which allows us to deliver the best experience for diners, restaurants and couriers.

How do you ensure quality of the food when it’s being delivered through the Caviar courier service?

Adler: We only partner with couriers with thermal bags and the best equipment (like food separators, bikes with racks for pizza when applicable, etc.), work with our restaurant partners to use the best packaging for every type of food we deliver, and use smart algorithms to make sure the timing for each order is seamless and matches with the right courier. Our restaurant partnerships give us more data and information to learn from, and we’re always improving our algorithms with more inputs and variables that make them super accurate.

New life goal: Make sure #Fridays always taste this good 🍩

A post shared by Caviar (@trycaviar) on

Timing is a huge consideration when thinking of keeping food fresh and at the right temperature. The courier needs to arrive at the restaurant just as the restaurant finishes preparing the food, so it’s not waiting around on the counter, and the courier needs the right equipment and information to get the order to the diner fast.

What are all the services you provide to your restaurant partners?

Adler: We provide restaurants with an app to manage all their orders, pickup and delivery logistics such as matching couriers to deliver food, a range of marketing solutions, as well as consultation and expertise about their online menu and packaging. We also ship in-house [print] collateral to restaurants we work with to help educate their customers about all the ways they can order their favorite food. Some additional features include: pre-order for up to a week in advance, shared carts for large groups, and Caviar for Teams, a streamlined catering option. We do share high-level, anonymized data with our restaurants so they can better understand where their customers are ordering from, when they’re ordering, and what they’re ordering to make smarter business decisions.

How does the Caviar app for the back-of-house kitchen staff work?

Adler: Every restaurant can customize their app and experience for the kitchen staff to receive orders and to make sure that the process is optimized for their restaurant and operation. Each establishment has the option to integrate with kitchen printers directly so back-of-house staff can review orders as they come in, directly from the restaurant’s Caviar app.

The Magnificent 12: Top Digital Execs of the Year

The Magnificent 12 Digital Executives of the Year: A list that did not exist just two years ago. (Yes, that's how emerging these leaders are in understanding the New Age restaurant consumer.)

This is a good thing for future digital leaders in that the roadmaps and social consumer infrastructure of future digital brands are just now being built. This era of leadership is the fastest changing area in all of the restaurant business. Along the way, leaders have been faced with things like real-time response, social, mobile, and emerging platforms - all elements that play into strategies of brands for the future.

These leaders were selected by the RSMI analyst team, who poured over 30 execs that made the short list. We looked at them as a leader and at their brand as a performer. We then looked for key attributes that identify them as a different kind of leader. But most of all, we looked at how the social consumer viewed their business - after all, the consumer is the deciding factor of success.  

The Finalists

Photo Credit: Google+

Photo Credit: Google+

Dan Kim: Red Mango

When Dan and I spoke on a social media panel together in 2008, little did I know he would be one of the executive pioneers in how business was to embrace the New Age of the digital and social brand. Dan is a creative visionary that looks beyond the everyday culture of our society and seeks out new trends that translate to new guests at Red Mango. Red Mango has been a Top 50 performer since the RSMI was created in 2010 and continues to set the pace for digital-thinking executives all across the industry.

 

 

Photo Credit: bizjournals.com

Photo Credit: bizjournals.com

 Kat Cole: Cinnabon

As the emerging go-to CEO, Kat Cole has taken this newly earned executive role to a whole new level. Coming up the VP ranks at Hooters and working her way to the top of the class is the very attribute that puts Kat Cole on this Magnificent 12 list. Her tenacity to help others grow and be involved in the day-to-day operations is what sets her apart as a digital executive. Kat takes the power of Twitter very seriously and engages often with workers, guests and fans of the Cinnabon brand. More importantly, she maintains the authenticity of the brand, which connects to her own theory of business.

 

Photo Credit: LinkedIn

Photo Credit: LinkedIn

 Don Fox: Firehouse Subs

Don is not only a visionary fast casual leader and the Chair of the Fast Casual Industry Council, but also leads one of the fastest growth brands in the super hot sandwich segment. The reason Don made this list is his unwavering strategy and long-term thinking of how to integrate digital and social into the fabric of Firehouse Subs. Many leaders are more "wait and see" - only few can actually see the vision and are resolved enough to act on it. This leadership has placed Firehouse at the top of the RSMI in many cases, and has shifted this brand to match pace with a very mobile and social audience that is on a massive growth spurt.

Photo Credit: AdAge.com

Photo Credit: AdAge.com

Rick Wion: McDonald's

As the edgy leader of digital and social at McDonald's, Rick has made some interesting decisions that has led McDonald's to achieve top honors in the RSMI. Fast performance has led McDonald's as the first brand to unseat Starbucks from its amazing eight quarter reign as top brand on the Restaurant Social Media Index. More importantly, Rick sees the future - albeit a digital one - for McDonald's, and implementing that future of a brand this size is a challenge not many are ready for. Rick seems poised to take the brand to a new place in the era of the tweet-powered, smartphone society we see today.

 

Photo Credit: Twitter

Photo Credit: Twitter

Nic Jammet: Sweetgreen

As one of the co-founders of Sweetgreen, Nic and his partners have taken a new approach to building a brand - a guerilla digital approach - with a concept called Sweetlife. This past year, the Sweetlife Festival, an amazing music culture fest driven by the brand's principles to eat well and live life with passion, had more than 25,000 people in attendance. This is more than just a marketing campaign for a brand - instead, they are building a culture that is led by digital actions that equate to real life actions. Digital has been the compelling factor for this brand's rise to cult status, and it will be interesting to see what this team has up its sleeve in the near future.

 

Photo Credit: BurgerBusiness

Photo Credit: BurgerBusiness

Tom Ryan: Smashburger

From the halls of McDonald's to the Fast Casual better burger segment, Tom is no newbie to the business. His passion and understanding of the American consumer seems to be reignited often. This understanding of the New Age consumer has led him and his team to create a social and digital launch of connected VIPs and local craft beer brewers, setting Smash apart from the rest of the burger clans. This approach is one that has propelled Smashburger to the top of the Restaurant Social Media Index for the past few quarters, and they are one of the few brands that are showing consistent growth in social sentiment and engagement.

 

Photo Credit: LinkedIn

Photo Credit: LinkedIn

Anthony Pigliacampo: Modmarket

From Boulder, Colorado, Modmarket is a small town market that houses the core of what  digital is to the consumer.  The focus of digital and in-store technology was always in the roadmap for this brand and its leaders. Anthony sees the new consumer with what seems to be x-ray vision, and matches it with a digital and social voice that is present in all that Modmarket does with full alignment to the brand. Modmarket is no longer a sleeper, but instead a brand that is destined to seize this new day of the digital social consumer.

 

 

Photo Credit: LinkedIn

Photo Credit: LinkedIn

Joe Sorge: AJ Bombers

As the pioneer of restaurants using Twitter, Joe Sorge has built his brand based around the understanding of the new power that consumers have - a power of choice, service and the overall experience.  Joe took the hashtag to the heart of what AJ Bombers was in allowing consumers to connect with the restaurant like no other restaurant at the time. This helped Bombers to dominate the independent top ranking in the Restaurant Social Media Index for several quarters and has placed them at a very special place in the history of the New Age Restaurant.

 

Scottsdaleculinaryfestival.org

Scottsdaleculinaryfestival.org

Sam Fox: Fox Restaurant Group

Sam understands how to build brands. In fact, all 11 of them are housed under one centralized digital voice. It takes a visionary to see the connection to consumers like Sam Fox, and better yet, it takes a leader to place this many brands at the stake of digital and social as a key area of the brand's communication strategy. Best of all, it's paying off with many of his brands cracking into the Top 250 in the Restaurant Social Media Index. As an independent brand creator, his new style of brand creation lends itself well to the approach of digital brand building with limited budget and a passionate fan and consumer group.

 

Photo Credit: nytimes.com

Photo Credit: nytimes.com

Danny Meyer: Union Square Hospitality Group

We think no Magnificent 12 List would be complete without the creator of Shake Shack, which is more than a restaurant and burger place. In just a few years, it has become an American Cult Icon, all led by the vision of Union Square Hospitality Group and the acceptance of the new digital consumer. Danny's team has created several digital ecosystems that match pace with how the consumer gets information about the brand with intuitive, easy-to-use design that embraces the new restaurant consumer - from a smartphone experience to the in-restaurant experience.

 

Photo Credit: LinkedIn

Photo Credit: LinkedIn

John Kunkel: 50 Eggs Restaurant Group

After many years of creating Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, John's real passion was to create brands of all types. He took his learning from the digital efforts of Lime and parlayed them into a brand-building engine at 50 Eggs with four new concepts on the ground in the past 18 months. His focus on connecting the pulse of Miami via a digital footprint is the new roadmap to building brands with digital and social communities.

 

 

Photo Credit: pbs.org

Photo Credit: pbs.org

Rick Bayless: Xoco

As the proverbial social chef, Rick is a compelling digital savant of using social as a medium to spread the word about his work and emerging brands. Best of all, Rick is approachable as a digital frontman for his empire, and is considered to be one of the top performing "Cheflebrities" with social. He actually gets  it and understands this shift in our mobile social society.

 

Looking Ahead

Each of the aforementioned Digital Executives has made the Magnificent 12 list for different reasons, but all finalists have one thing in common: each were willing to take an initial risk to maintain an 'ahead-of-the-curve' position in branding their business, and continue to evolve despite the fluidity of the social and digital sphere. It will be exciting to see what these, and others, bring to the table as social, digital and mobile continues to evolve.

The three Digital Executive of the Year #RIZMY Award winners will be announced at the First Annual Foodservice Digital Marketing Summit, taking place on September 24th in Scottsdale, Arizona. Click here for more information about the event, and check out the other nominees here.

 

The Social Chef: Top Chefs Talk About the Importance of Social Media

Photo Credit: Restaurant Briefing

Photo Credit: Restaurant Briefing

With the advent of Twitter, Facebook and the growing number of bloggers and independent newspapers, marketing to consumers has changed a lot in the past few years. It used to be that restaurants would advertise in big newspapers or vie for primetime advertising spots on television. Now, there is a direct line of communication between restaurants and their consumers, and a concentration on more local advertising with independent papers and bloggers.   

In a recent panel discussion about restaurant marketing practices, top chef Rick Bayless said: 

"Twitter gives me the opportunity to show the complexity of restaurant life and interesting parts of my life. I get more comments from people who will never be able to come to our restaurants but they can get to know me. If they do come to the restaurants, people feel like it’s someone’s home they know. I’m always giving a behind-the-scenes view of what’s going on in the restaurant."

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