Just in time for school to start again, food services provider Aramark announced today it has acquired Good Uncle, an on-demand meal-delivery service that drops food to students at specific pickup points around college campuses. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Good Uncle launched in 2016 and has raised a total of $2.2 million. The service, accessible via an iOS or Android app, aims to offer college and university students restaurant-quality meal options at student-friendly prices, including free delivery.
To order food, students first sign up with the Good Uncle app and choose items from a menu that rotates every couple of weeks. Certain campuses also feature 15-week membership plans that theoretically could function as an alternative, or at least a supplement, to a traditional student meal plan purchased from the university.
Good Uncle partners with local chefs to make the food and uses its own fleet of vehicles to deliver meals. All food is delivered at drop points on or around the campus. When a user purchases a meal, they choose one of these designated points, marked in the app, and are given an estimated time for how long the food will take to arrive at that point. The Good Uncle site claims an average of 26 minutes for most orders. Payment and order tracking are available through the app.
Aramark, meanwhile, is a longtime food services provider to universities and currently works with over 400 of them in the U.S., offering everything from dining hall services to convenience stores and coffee shops. But thanks to delivery, restaurant-quality food is easier and faster than ever for students to get their hands on, which means slimy spaghetti and endless bowls of cereal from the dining hall aren’t the only options anymore. For Amarak, acquiring a company like Good Uncle is a way to stay relevant as the campus culinary landscape changes.
And it’s definitely changing — specifically to meet the demands for delivery. In 2018, Grubhub acquired Tapingo, whose platform lets students order ahead at on-campus restaurants, cafes and dining halls. And universities are also a hot testing bed for delivery robots, with companies like Starship and Kiwi sending their bots to roam about the quad delivering meals and snacks to hungry students.
Right now, Good Uncle is available on eight campuses in the U.S. According to the press release, the company will operate independently of Amarak and maintain its own unique brand identity. Even so, linking up with a larger company like Aramark, which has a long history and wide reach with universities, could enable Good Uncle to expand to new campuses and compete with the plethora of delivery technologies currently headed back to school.