When co-founders Nick Popovici and Steven Citou first pitched restaurants the idea for a fully customizable meal service a few years ago, they met with a lot of skepticism. “People didn’t think you could make money by doing bespoke meals,” said Charley Gloerfelt, Vita Mojo’s Head of Brand Development.
Now, London-based Vita Mojo is trying not only to prove them wrong, but to help other restaurants hop on the modular-meal bandwagon, too.
Vita Mojo allows diners to create a fully customized meal via an in-store iPad at any of their three London locations, or using the restaurant’s app. Customers choose their desired base or protein, sides, toppings, and sauces, which are combined into a final plate that’s priced accordingly. So instead of being locked into a prescribed combo, diners can choose their own adventure. Each of Vita Mojo’s dish options also has a fully transparent breakdown of calories, macro levels, and allergens, so you know exactly what nutritional elements are going into your lunch. As of now there are 9 billion possible combinations.
Since they’re modular, Vita Mojo’s meal prices can vary quite a bit. In general, though, they’ll set you back £5-£7 ($6.50-$9.50 USD) for a basic lunch — the norm for most fast-casual spots in London. According to Gloerfelt, diners usually get their meal three to five minutes after placing their order. That timing might be normal at the average lunch buffet — unless you’re really indecisive — but is pretty speedy for a bespoke, high-quality meal. Plus, all of Vita Mojo’s meal components are geared towards health-conscious customers and made with transparently sourced ingredients.
Vita Mojo has also released a business intelligence platform that allows other restaurants to implement the same customizable meal model. They launched it at the end of 2017, just after we first wrote about Vita Mojo’s modular meal service on The Spoon.
The SaaS product lets food establishments track PoS data at a granular level. Since all meals created with the Vita Mojo system are modular, businesses can get a better sense of exactly which foods — not just which meals — are most popular. They can also predict future sales, reduce food waste, and see what ingredients are trending (cough, kale) in order to better inform recipe creation. So if they notice a lot of people are ordering sweet potato mash, they can order and prep accordingly — and even develop a few more recipes starring yams.
So far, a few smaller businesses, like coffee chains and independent establishments, are using their software. Gloerfelt couldn’t give me any details on pricing for using the SaaS product, saying that it varied depending on how much support the restaurants or cafés required and how much customization they were looking for.
But that’s just the beginning. Vita Mojo only started leasing the software towards the end of last year, and they hope to expand the reach quite a bit within the fast casual dining scene.
If this made you think of eatsa, you are not alone. The fast-casual chain shuttered all of their storefronts outside of their home city of San Francisco last year in an effort to focus on powering other restaurants with its technology. Though Gloerfelt didn’t indicate that Vita Mojo was planning on doing away with their restaurants anytime soon, she did tell me that they’re intended to be a proof of concept. In other words, they want to show that making a customized meal for every diner walking through the door is as cost- and time-effective as serving a set meal.
Vita Mojo is currently expanding their operations within the U.K. and looking at franchising their ordering and tracking software.