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Nick Solares

NYC Chefs/Restaurants Share Their Thoughts on Offering Delivery

As a Delivery Week special, Eater reached out to some of NYC's hottest restaurants to find out what role delivery plays in their businesses

In New York, you can get pretty much anything delivered at any hour of the day or night. It's definitely one of the best places to live if you want great food to come to you. But how do restaurants feel about offering delivery? Here, now, New York City restaurants and chefs share their experiences with sending their food out into the world.


Hearth

Are there any dishes that are more popular online than at the restaurant? ​

Josh Allen, Director of Operations: The top three sellers at the restaurant are pretty much the top three sellers online: gnocchi, meatballs, rigatoni with pork ragu. We also sell a lot of whole spatchcock chickens, at $68 each, which is surprising for a to-go order. But I guess some folks are trying to feed a whole family, and it's great for that.

Are there top-sellers in the restaurant that do not do well online?

JA: Our quail dish is extremely popular in the restaurant, but we almost never sell it for delivery.

What makes some dishes better for delivery than others?

JA: Heartier dishes with less delicate components definitely make for better delivery options. Delicate salads and fried items generally don't travel well, no matter how well they're packaged.

Did you take delivery into consideration when you created the menu?

JA: We did not take delivery into consideration when creating the menu. However, when we created our delivery menu through Caviar, we hand-picked items that were sure to arrive intact and delicious. ​

​Is there one delivery service you think is better to work with?

JA: So far, we have only worked with Caviar, and we just think they're great. For a restaurant like Hearth, which focuses on fine dining generally, it allows us to just make the food and not even have to deal with the delivery portion. The Caviar delivery people are prompt and courteous, and the customer support on the restaurant's end is amazing.

On average, how much of your sales come from delivery?

JA: For Hearth, it totally depends on both the season and the day of the week. For example, our sales in winter months are much higher, and nights that are generally "stay at home" nights, like Sunday and Monday, are more popular for delivery. On a Sunday night in November, we may do as much as one-fifth of our total sales from Caviar, but that's extreme. More likely an extra tenth on average, which is a great extra boost to restaurant sales.

Would you consider going delivery only?

H: Nah! Hearth is still a destination restaurant for many people across the city, as well as a great spot to hang with friends any night of the week. We also do a boatload of private events. Plus our beverage program is great...in order to get the full experience of our joint, we really believe you should to come and eat here.

Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria

Are there any dishes that are more popular online than at the restaurant?

Donna Lennard, owner: All of our menu items see higher sales numbers in the store versus online via Caviar. We do, however, see an increased amount of add-ons and menu item customizations on online orders — add arugula, add aged balsamic, etc. Consumers are more apt to customize when the extent of the interaction is checking a box.

Are there top-sellers in the restaurant that do not do well online?

DL: We offer pastries on Caviar, these are a huge hit in the store, but the sales do not translate to online.

What makes some dishes better for delivery?

DL: An item is good for delivery if it "travels well." We want delivered items to be as close to dine-in quality as possible when they reach the customer. Items like home made gnocchi di ricotta with fresh basil (a current popular dinner offering) would not be as ideal for delivery as a hearty house-cured salumi sandwich.

Did you take delivery into consideration when you created the menu?

DL: We have a special menu created for delivery and catering. Items from the Alimentari counter are perfect for delivery or take-out and all travel really well. The idea is that you could order from the Alimentari or pick up in store and bring home some of the il Buco lifestyle.

Is there one delivery service you think is better to work with?

DL: We have had a great experience working with Caviar.

On average, how much of your sales come from delivery?

DL: A very small portion of our sales are attributed to delivery orders.

Would you ever consider going delivery-only?

DL: Delivery only wouldn't make very much sense for us! Of course, we would love to have more delivery business. It is fun to be able to share your product with people in their homes.

Mr. Donahue's

Are there any dishes that are more popular online than at the restaurant?

Ann Redding, co-chef/owner: Yes. At home it seems to skew to more everyday comfort. We sell a lot of rotisserie chicken or roast beef.

Are there top-sellers in the restaurant that do not do well online?

AR: Our menu is pretty focused so there really isn't a huge disparity.

What makes some dishes better for delivery?

AR: Traditionally, fried items are better enjoyed in house though I feel the expectation is there that if you order something fried it may not be exactly like if you were to order in a restaurant. Braised items, simply roasted items tend to do well.

Did you take delivery into consideration when you created the menu?

AR: Absolutely. Since delivery was such a focus of the restaurant, it is definitely a consideration when bringing on new dishes. We have at times had items on the menu that were for dining in only such as the BBQ oysters.

Is there one delivery service you think is better to work with?

AR: We've worked with Caviar both at Donahue's and Uncle Boons since we started doing delivery both places and have been really happy. As a consumer, I really like their curation of restaurants as well.

On average, how much of your sales come from delivery?

AR: About a quarter of our sales at Mr. D's is delivery. We would like to improve on that. The main goal at Mr. D's was to offer a good value and I feel that we've really done that.

Would you consider going delivery-only?

AR: Absolutely. Actually that was the idea for Mr. Donahue's before we opened. We were looking for a basement space downtown to do the concept as strictly a delivery restaurant. The space on Mott ended up falling into our laps so we decided to go with it there but the main focus has always been delivery. Given the size of our dining room it makes a lot of sense.

Fung Tu


Are there dishes that are more popular online than at the restaurant?

Sophie Maarleveld, General Manager: No. Our delivery dishes are our most popular dishes here at the restaurant.

What makes some dishes better for delivery?

SM: Dishes with carefully plated components as well as dishes with lots of broth or sauce are less delivery friendly. Dishes like our deep fried snacks and appetizers, as well as wok-fired items travel well.

On average, how much of your sales come from delivery?

SM: Around 2 percent.

Would you consider going delivery-only?

SM: Definitely not.

Charlie Bird

Are there any dishes that are more popular online than at the restaurant?

Ryan Hardy, chef/partner: Can't say that they are more popular (as they are also very popular in the restaurant), but the gnocchi rosa, cacio e pepe, and farro salads are our top sellers online, and things I certainly want to eat when I don't want to leave my couch.

Are there top-sellers in the restaurant that do not do well online?

RH: Not really. I would have suspected a huge bone in ribeye would be a dud online, but surprisingly we sell a good amount of them.

What makes some dishes better for delivery?

RH: Food that doesn’t need to stay crispy tends to travel well.

Did you take delivery into consideration when you created the menu?

RH: Absolutely. We wanted guests at home to receive the same quality food as we serve in the restaurant. Knowing that some items, such as anything crispy fried would steam as it travels, we geared our menu to be a success from the start.

On average, how much of your sales come from delivery?

RH: It varies depending on the weather forecast!

DBGB Kitchen & Bar

Are there top-sellers in the restaurant that do not do well online?

Nic Tang, chef and Brian Jackson, Assistant General Manager: We actually see very similar numbers in terms of in-restaurant orders and delivery. Burgers are our most popular item, and we regularly see hot dogs or salads as a close second.

What makes some dishes better for delivery?

NT: Dishes that hold up while traveling are the obvious winner – and we know we’re dealing with an educated/experienced customer, based on their clear preference for these kind of dishes.

Did you take delivery into consideration when you created the menu?

NT: We didn’t create any new dishes for delivery, but we did work to ensure the quality via delivery was as close as possible to what guests experience in the restaurant. So we definitely tested our products to see how they hold up – both in terms of presentation, taste, texture, temperature, etc.

Is there one delivery service you think is better to work with?

NT: In our experience, they are all fairly similar and reliable. So far, we haven’t heard any complaints from guests who order take-out, which is our primary method for gauging success!

On average, how much of your sales come from delivery?

NT: Only a small percentage of our sales comes from delivery.

Would you consider going delivery only?

NT: For every restaurant in the Daniel Boulud group, hospitality is at the core of our concepts. The focus is to bring people into the restaurant, to engage with our community, and – of course – to offer an excellent food/drink experience. (One of our major draws is our expertly curated craft beer list, which you can’t get via delivery!) Overall, there’s an ambiance that comes with dining in the restaurant, as compared with eating at home. They really serve two different purposes.

Miss Lily's

Are there dishes that are more popular online than at the restaurant?

Adam Schop, chef/co-owner: Our Jerk Chicken and Jerk Corn are our two most popular items for delivery and at the restaurant.

Are there any top-sellers in the restaurant that do not do well online?

ML: We pared down our delivery options to make sure that everything offered would travel well. Therefore, some dishes available at the restaurant are not offered for delivery.

What makes some dishes better for delivery?

ML: Our jerk grilled items and stews, like the oxtail and curry goat, are best for delivery because they travel well.

Did you take delivery into consideration when you created the menu?

ML: No, it was an ancillary revenue stream that we were very happy to capitalize on.

Is there one delivery service you think is better to work with?

ML: All of them have their strengths. We like working with multiple services because every customer has their preference and we like to accommodate as many people as we can.

On average, how much of your sales come from delivery?

ML: Approximately 10 percent of our sales come from delivery.

Would you consider going delivery-only?

ML: We don't have plans to head in this trajectory, primarily because Miss Lily's is such an experiential place. Our goal is to transport our customers to the Caribbean with our vibrant atmosphere, old-school ska and reggae music, and of course classic and authentic island cooking.

Mr Donahue's + Hearth photo: Nick Solares | Charlie Bird photo: Bess Adler

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