Momofuku kingpin David Chang’s delivery-only restaurant Ando is no longer delivery only. This week brings the opening of a fast-casual storefront near Union Square at 31 West 14th Street, between Sixth and Fifth Avenue.
Taking a drastic turn from its birth last year as a virtual restaurant, this full-blown restaurant debuts with an expanded menu of breakfast offerings and even chairs. To eat here, diners must get up and walk in, interact with a real, live human being, and carry their food themselves. Breakfast will not be available on weekdays on the app, giving the store something unique. Prices are the same, and delivery is still available but with a fee. The full menu is below.
CEO Andy Taylor likens the store model to a Pret — the company at which he last worked — with its grab-and-go case for cold items and counter service for hot food. Taylor hopes having a place people can go will expand the restaurant’s audience. Citing now-failed delivery services Sprig and Maple (of which Chang was an investor), Taylor says he wants to shy away from that model of raising “a ton of money to throw it at problems.”
The result is that Ando’s service model is now like every other restaurant with delivery in NYC — where people can go into the restaurant or order it for delivery. But despite the movement into a more traditional business model, Ando seems to be sticking to the tech-world language it’s been using since its launch. Taylor calls the new store a “hybrid model” that’s similar to Amazon:
“If you want something in your hand this afternoon at 4 p.m. from Amazon, you can get it — but they’ll charge for it. If you can wait two days, it’s free,” he says. “In my mind, I think the delivery-only model needs to land in that place. If people can walk a block, they’ll do that. But if money is not an issue, we’ll bring it to your desk or door and you’ll pay more.”
The passing of Ando as a delivery service into a fast-casual restaurant has been fraught. On its path to profitability — which it is still not, but Taylor says should be by “early next year” — Ando has has several twists and turns, and, as Chang admits, made some mistakes. The restaurant went through several delivery zone starts and stops, menu revamps, and resorted to handing out coupons earlier this year. Eater critic Ryan Sutton had some harsh words for it in his non-starred review, writing, “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.”
Ando is now open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m to 9 p.m.