Ghost kitchen provider Zuul is launching a new service that will bring orders from its restaurants to office buildings and apartment complexes in a single scheduled delivery.
The New York-based company is working with large property developers in the city to roll out the new “virtual food hall” channel, called Zuul Market.
Here’s how it works: Zuul creates a custom online ordering portal and website for the building. There, tenants and employees can browse menus from Zuul restaurants and place an order before a given time. The meals are then prepared in Zuul’s SoHo location and dropped off in a single delivery later that day.
Building management works with Zuul to determine delivery times, location, fees and budget, according to Zuul’s website.
Developers including Silverstein Properties and Broad Street Development are offering the service as an amenity across their properties, which include parts of the World Trade Center complex.
“Zuul is a great service that has become an important part of our Inspire hospitality app,” Guy Vardi, chief innovation officer for Silverstein Properties, said in a statement. “Our employees and tenants can order lunch from their phones before 10:30 a.m., and have it delivered directly to their desks two hours later. Zuul offers full quality control over the entire process—from food preparation to delivery.”
The batch delivery system is more efficient for Zuul and also means fewer drivers coming in and out of buildings and interacting with people, a key precaution amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For its restaurants, Zuul Market represents a new sales channel with a predictable rhythm and lead time to prepare orders.
"Zuul Market's delivery model unlocks the efficiencies of larger, catering-style deliveries, but with the diversity of choice and brand-name restaurants of a food hall," Kristen Barnett, director of strategy for Zuul, said in a statement. "We are excited about the potential to expand this model to other buildings to offer customers convenience without sacrificing choice."
Zuul’s SoHo restaurants include Junzi Kitchen, Naya Express, Sarge’s Deli and Stone Bridge Pizza & Salad, as well as a virtual snack brand called Snack Committee. Each offers a curated menu of 15-20 items through Zuul Market, and customers can order from multiple restaurants in a single order, contributing to the food hall feel.
The new service builds on the company’s acquisition last year of Ontray, an online ordering software provider, said Zuul CEO Corey Manicone. “We’re excited to offer this new sales channel to our member restaurants while supporting a safe return to work for many New Yorkers,” he said in a statement.
Fast-casual chains Protein Bar & Kitchen and Sweetgreen have similar programs, offering batch delivery to office buildings with designated pickup spots.
Zuul plans to grow its presence in New York via new ghost kitchens and food hall partnerships, helped along by a $9 million funding round announced in July. The company said at the time it had a waiting list of restaurants interested in future locations, a sign of how interest in ghost kitchens has exploded during the coronavirus pandemic.