What are the essential factors that make up a restaurant? Your list probably includes a menu, kitchen staff, and a physical location. Maple has each of those factors. But it’s actually an app, not a restaurant.
Instead of going to Maple to eat or to pick up food, customers simply order from a rotating daily menu of fresh meals on the app and then get the food delivered. While delivery itself isn’t a new concept, a restaurant that’s fully dedicated to the concept is. Caleb Merkl, Maple’s co-founder told Wired:
“Restaurants aren’t set up to do delivery well. They don’t have the budget or time to think about packaging or putting technology together to route the orders intelligently. For us, everything we do is about how to make some part of delivery better.”
Since Maple isn’t concerned with keeping up a dining area for its consumers, it’s able to focus more of its energy on improving the ordering and delivery process. Unlike other delivery services, either those run by restaurants themselves or third-party delivery services, Maple tries to create a full restaurant experience through its delivery.
This means focusing on food quality, presentation, and speed. Currently, the company’s menu includes a rotating menu of three different dishes for lunch and three dishes for dinner each day. Then the company uses technology to continually calculate the best routes for its delivery workers, who travel through specific areas of Manhattan on bikes. Instead of preparing and delivering the food on a first come, first serve basis, the technology calculates the most efficient routes to get to the highest number of customers in the shortest amount of time.
This unique business model also allows the company to cut some of the costs associated with keeping up a dine-in or carryout restaurant. And since those costs so often contribute to restaurants going out of business, this concept could certainly help the company succeed. It could even potentially lead to a whole new niche within the restaurant industry.
Editor’s note: In May of 2018, Maple announced it was shutting down operations. Recode has the story.
Image: Maple app