At the height of the everybody-panic-grocery-shelves-are-bare phase of this pandemic, Bay Area-based startup Cheetah pivoted from selling food to restaurants to selling that same food directly to consumers. Today, Cheetah announced that it is going back to its roots, in a way, and selling prepared meals from restaurants.
Cheetah’s Restaurant Picks service is open to all restaurants in the Bay Area and is kicking off with Curry Up Now, Hummus Bodega, La Mediterranee, Tartine and Zero Zero SF to sell prepackaged meals through the Cheetah app. As with its grocery service, orders are picked up by customers at one of four locations around the Bay Area. Users are only able to order food from the restaurant in that pickup location (e.g., Curry Up Now meals are only available to people picking up food in the Inner Sunset neighborhood).
Unlike third-party delivery services, Cheetah is not charging a commission for its service, just the standard credit card processing fees.
The lines between restaurant and grocery stores were already blurring pre-COVID-19 as grocery stores offered an array of hot meals to take home. The pandemic not only decimated the restaurant industry, but also shut down that hot bar side of the business for grocers.
Cheetah’s Restaurant Picks take up the mantle of that blurring between grocers and restaurants, but just in a whole new direction. Cheetah went from connecting restaurants with wholesalers, to connecting consumers with wholesalers. In each of those cases, those connections helped keep businesses open and people fed. Now it is doing the same on the other side of the equation by giving restaurants a new revenue source directly from consumers.
With the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down here in the U.S., and Cheetah flush with recent funding, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cheetah create even more connections across the restaurant meal journey.