In a first for DoorDash, the third-party delivery company is working with an operator to open a new restaurant.
DoorDash partnered with Bay Area restaurant group Burma Superstar to create Burma Bites, a delivery-only Burmese concept launching Wednesday in Oakland. The news was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
The move is a logical next step for DoorDash, which has crept further into the realm of restaurant operations in recent years. Last October, it opened a ghost kitchen in Northern California, providing kitchen space for four brands and handling the delivery piece. With Burma Bites, it has developed and invested in a new concept, further blurring the line between third-party delivery and restaurants.
And in a separate development Monday, DoorDash announced that it’s working with restaurants impacted by the pandemic to open delivery-only locations.
The development of Burma Bites predates the pandemic, beginning as a result of “incredible delivery demand” for Burma Superstar’s four restaurants, DoorDash said. With dine-in service still limited amid COVID-19, Burma Bites will likely be a key channel for the parent group.
“At such an uncertain time, we’re excited to introduce this new model that enables us to continue to bring Burmese food and culture to the community in a safe and accessible way,” said Desmond Tan, owner of Burma Superstar, in a statement.
DoorDash and Burma built the restaurant from the ground up with delivery in mind. It includes high-capacity kitchen equipment to fulfill off-premise demand and eco-friendly packaging designed for travel, with menu items tailored to delivery, like chicken wings and fries.
The company would not reveal the financial details of its deal with Burma Bites.
“Empowering restaurants with the tools to connect with more customers and build new revenue streams is in our DNA, and we’re taking our mission one step further by creating a to-go restaurant concept from scratch for one restaurant brand,” said Georgie Thomas, head of regional merchant partnerships at DoorDash, in a statement.
Burma Bites’ delivery will cover a radius of 3 to 5 miles from its location at 4911 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland. Customers can order via DoorDash or its subsidiary, Caviar, or place a to-go order at the restaurant itself.
Reopen for Delivery
Burma Bites is not the only initiative from DoorDash that has it forging increasingly close ties with restaurants. On Monday, the company announced a new program called Reopen for Delivery, in which it works with restaurants to open delivery-only locations.
Its first such partnership is with Krazy Hog BBQ in Glenwood, Ill., which closed in March as a result of restrictions brought on by the pandemic. DoorDash worked with Krazy Hog to relaunch as a delivery-only brand out of a ghost kitchen in Chicago, more than 30 miles from its original location.
“Every business needs to learn how to pivot,” said Victor Cooksey, Krazy Hog founder, in a statement. “Together with DoorDash’s expertise, this new concept will help us sustain an off-premise operation and ultimately help us focus on bringing back the neighborhood restaurant how we want to.”
The delivery-only offshoot will operate with the help of virtual kitchen company A La Couch out of a facility in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Krazy Hog staff will cook the food, with A La Couch employees assembling orders and DoorDash handling delivery.
DoorDash will also provide additional support such as consulting and marketing. Financial details of the partnership were not disclosed.
In addition to an evolution for DoorDash, Burma Bites and Reopen for Delivery represent big bets on the future of delivery, which has taken off during the pandemic as diners stay close to home. But there are questions about how much of that business will stick when things go back to normal. Chipotle Mexican Grill, for instance, last week said third-party delivery had hurt its margins and that it was considering raising delivery prices to push more consumers toward pickup.
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