Lunchbox launches free online ordering system for independents

Lunchbox Essential allows small operators to create their own online ordering site, extending the company’s reach into the indie market.
Lunchbox logo
Image courtesy of Lunchbox

Lunchbox is launching a commission-free online ordering system for mom-and-pops as it looks to expand its reach beyond chains. 

Lunchbox Essential includes many of the same features as the startup’s chain-oriented product, including online ordering, marketing and loyalty tools. It does not offer a mobile app option, nor does it integrate directly into a restaurant’s POS system.

Restaurants with three or fewer locations can set up a Lunchbox online ordering page themselves in as little as 30 minutes, according to the company. They will pay Lunchbox nothing, though they may be on the hook for delivery fees if they use a third-party delivery provider. A “negligible” convenience fee will be passed on to customers, the company said.

The new product is geared toward restaurants that don’t have online ordering or that depend on a marketplace like DoorDash for their digital business. 

It also allows Lunchbox to enter the independent restaurant market. Founded in 2019, its initial focus was mid-size chains, and it has recently gone after large brands with the acquisition of online ordering company NovaDine. More than 2,500 restaurant locations currently use Lunchbox.

“We’re really excited to go into SMB because that’s what we always wanted to do,” said founder and CEO Nabeel Alamgir. “I don’t feel like we’ve ever done enough to help the mom-and-pops.”

The move puts Lunchbox in competition with other indie-focused online ordering companies, such as ChowNow and Popmenu.

While Lunchbox will get no direct revenue from the new product, Alamgir said it will support the company’s ongoing battle against delivery marketplaces. And if it helps keep restaurants in business, “we can figure out how to make money later” with upsells or other add-ons, he added.

The system is in the middle of a soft launch, but Alamgir said he expects it to be in 1,000 restaurants in the next two months and “thousands” by the end of the year.

To keep up with the growth, Lunchbox is beefing up its tech support team. Lunchbox Essential customers will have access to the same services as chains do, Alamgir said, and the company is working on adding staff to help get them set up. 

“I’m just excited to speak to both groups now,” he said.

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