A Greenwich chef has launched his own “virtual food court” website, catering to employees at large corporations ordering lunch.
Menumavin.com is similar to competitor food delivery websites, GrubHub.com and Seamless.com, but it’s designed from a restaurant’s point of view, allowing for better presentations and more logistical control.
Customers can see the available restaurants and menus online and place their orders, but that’s where other sites end, said Jonathan Brennan, Menumavin co-founder.
“It’s up to the kitchen how they get it there,” he said. “But it’s nearly impossible for the restaurants to meet the demand.”
Speaking from experience Brennan said: Restaurants will run out of supplies before they can stop additional orders; it can be hard to customize orders; most orders get thrown in a bag as an afterthought; and often delivery routes are inefficient.
“They don’t have the same information and tools as they do when customers are in their seats,” he said.
The website has been live for only a couple months and has about 30 corporations signed up for daily order emails. Currently Brennan and his wife’s restaurant, Plum, is the only restaurant option available. When more restaurants are included, the site will take a percentage of the sale.
Putting customer service and restaurant standards back into ordering food, the site has a live chat for customers to ask the chef or restaurant manager questions and a real-time menu that a restaurant can quickly edit. Additionally, the site allows restaurants to customize how their menu looks, rather than fitting everything into a simple Excel sheet like other websites.
“People spend time agonizing over how the menu is set up,” Brennan said. “This is a huge advantage.”
With these tools, restaurants can control their inventory and change the menu if items are running low. Often through delivery websites, customers order lunch in advance and restaurants won’t actually get the order until several hours later. If they’ve run out of something, they have to call back a customer to change the order, which often leaves customers unsatisfied.
A final feature of the site that sets it apart from others is that it also groups similar orders together, making an easier delivery system for restaurants.
Right now Brennan is focused on marketing to Greenwich and Stamford, but there are already plans in place to start expanding along the eastern seaboard. Restaurants on Long Island are waiting to be included on the site’s listings, a site has been started in Washington, D.C., and sites for Hartford and New Haven aren’t far behind.
Additionally, a national food vendor wants the site to go national and endorse it. Brennan said he couldn’t reveal further details.
“In over 15 years, I’ve learned firsthand what professional kitchens need to operate at an aspiring level and exceed clients’ expectations,” Brennan said in a prepared statement. “In both regards, we have created an experience that is inviting, easy-to-use, and incredibly efficient.”
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