The dystopian future of virtual, delivery only restaurants is quickly creeping closer and closer to the present. A new restaurant that calls itself Delivery Only has hired a chef with credentials at fancy restaurants like Per Se to helm the delivery-order kitchen. Delivery Only has been running from a space in FiDi since the beginning of the year and already has a five-star rating on Seamless with nearly 100 votes. Online reviews balk at the high prices but most ultimately seem to be pleased with the food.
Delivery Only aims to "master the art of the dining-in experience" with its menu, according to the release. Owner and restaurateur Tim Powell wanted the virtual restaurant to make all menu items as they are ordered, with everything from the breads to the sauces made from scratch. In the next two years, Powell plans to open six more locations in New York City. And he's highlighting quality: Delivery Only's executive chef Joseph Nierstedt has done stints at restaurants around the world, including Per Se, California's The Restaurant at Meadowood, and Mugaritz in Spain.
But despite Nierstedt's pedigree, several of the most popular menu items look more like standard American comfort food. The top item is a $14 chicken tender order. Nashville hot fried chicken, rigatoni bolognese, a dry-aged burger, and a baked salmon dish also top the list. Meanwhile, prices are as high as they would be at a mid-range sit-down restaurant. Entrees range from $17 to $28, while sandwiches cost between $15 and $22.
Company partner Hannes Hennche says that the cost is a result of the higher end ingredients and the labor it takes to make all the food from scratch. He says that unlike typical dine-in restaurants, the food is made for delivery so should be arriving in better shape. The baked salmon, for example, finishes cooking while it's in transit due to a salt dough crust. "A salmon just seared out of a pan, traveling in a delivery service — it would never be as hot," Hennche argues. Plus, doing things like baking their own hamburger bun costs more cash. "It's priced right for what it is," he says.
Still, Delivery Only is entering a crowded market. Aside from regular restaurants, big name virtual restaurants are popping up around the city. David Chang is opening up a Momofuku delivery-only operation called Ando, a project that's in addition to his investment in delivery-only, chef-driven restaurant Maple. Company Green Summit runs about eight different virtual restaurants out of two commissary kitchens, and it's expected to rake in $30 million in revenue this year. There's Savory and Munchery and relatively new delivery-only restaurant called Nomz that only offers Asian noodle soups. In San Francisco, on-demand meal service SpoonRocket has even already had time to raise money, shutter, and then enter talks to be revived by a foreign investor.
Delivery Only, which Hennche calls "a premium service," doesn't have the same venture capitalist investments, he says. They're more of a mom-and-pop restaurant operation that happens to not have a dining room. "We try to make it right for every customer," he says." Delivery Only is available on Seamless and will soon have its own delivery website.