The new initiative is a cross between an online marketplace and a white-label delivery platform. The marketplace sells a limited number of items from restaurants that are currently members of Zuul’s ghost kitchen facility in SoHo, including Junzi Kitchen, Stone Bridge Pizza & Salad, and Sarge’s Deli. Zuul has also worked with its member restaurants to co-create virtual brands, which are also available through the marketplace. For example, Stone Bridge also operates the virtual-only Rival Sandwich Co.
All food is prepped and cooked in the SoHo kitchen facility. Zuul then delivers the food at scheduled times to drop-off points located in office buildings as well as residential properties around NYC. Zuul controls the entire process, from order processing to fulfillment to the last-mile delivery.
The idea is to provide a more efficient system for delivery, where meals from multiple restaurants going to multiple different people can be bulked together and taken to a single location. To do this effectively, Zuul has partnered with Silverstein Properties and Broad Street Development, both major property developers in NYC that own both office buildings and residential properties. Zuul Market menus will be available to residents and employees throughout those companies’ properties. For example, Silverstein integrated Zuul Market into its Inspire app for tenants as a building-wide amenity across its buildings.
How successful this delivery strategy is in office buildings depends a lot on how many people actually wind up going back to the office. Right now, it’s not many. But residential properties could be a lucrative area for delivery and commerce during the pandemic, and probably after. Folks are spending more time at home these days, and with colder weather coming, that’s likely to increase. So whether it’s automated convenience stores, contact-free delivery pods a la Minnow, or a virtual marketplace like Zuul’s, more and more companies are finding new ways to bring the restaurant experience into the home.
Zuul said it plans to build additional food hall partnerships with both restaurants and properties in addition to more ghost kitchen facilities across NYC in the future.