Food delivery is on a precipice right now, and David Chang might fall off. The Momofuku master spoke with The Ringer following the death of delivery service Maple, of which he was an original investor. What one can discern from the interview boils down to Chang having no idea what will make delivery work. He says “I don’t know” in response to questions a grand total of six times.
Chang has a personal stake in figuring the business out — he owns Ando, a delivery-only restaurant Momofuku restaurant that raised $7 million in venture capital funding and is the focus of the interview. Of the company, Chang says, “There’s a lot to figure out, and lots of mistakes to be made ... At the end of the day, it’s really hard. It’s an extraordinarily difficult business that someone is going to win, and it’s something that I’m really fascinated by.”
Chang points to Domino’s as killing the delivery game, though he does not want Ando to go the pizza route, as there has already been “a lot of innovation” in that category. He admits Ando has made a lot of mistakes — but allegedly the “right kind” — and that most of the company’s cash the first year went to figuring out technology.
Ando is looking into other delivery services but has mostly settled on UberEats, which, good news, now has the most monthly active users of the top American delivery apps. It does seem like Chang also believes in Caviar, though, which delivers food from his other restaurants Fuku, Nishi, Ssam Bar, and Ma Peche (despite Chang saying in the interview that no other restaurant of his delivers).
There’s a reason people are rushing to conquer the delivery sector: A 2016 study by Morgan Stanley analysts found that the food delivery market, currently worth about $30 billion, has the potential to be worth some $210 billion. Plus, GrubHub, DoorDash, Caviar, and Yelp Eat24 have each seen growth in downloads and monthly active users of their apps, year-over-year.
Despite all the work Chang is putting into Ando, Eater critic Ryan Sutton concluded in November that, “after countless meals at Ando over the past two months, I can’t say it shows any of the signs of transforming the delivery world in any meaningful way.”
Nonetheless, as Chang says, “We’re still trying to figure it out.”