A new startup food delivery service will allow Sacramento-area residents to purchase food from Bay Area restaurants and bakeries. But it’s not your typical DoorDash on-demand delivery service.
“Our secret sauce is that we forgo speed of delivery completely,” said Jonathan Friedland, co-founder of Locale.
Locale will only deliver orders once a week, on Saturdays, and orders must be placed by Thursday evening before midnight. This means that depending on when you order from the website, your food will arrive in 2-6 days.
Friedland says it will be worth it for the top-rated pizzas at Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco or the bagels at Bochik Bagels in Berkeley, which a New York Times food critic described as having better bagels than New York.
The first order period is this week from September 19 to September 22. Delivery will take place on September 24.
Local, two, also serves Los Angeles and San Diego.
It’s the brainchild of Friedland, who co-founded the startup with high school friend Chris Clark.
New idea for an outdated problem
Friedland, who graduated from UCLA School of Engineering in 2019, said he and Clark were regular customers of Manresa Bread at Los Gatos, the bakery designed in the kitchen of three-star Michelin restaurant, Manresa Restaurant.
He and Clark began discussing why delivering baked goods through DoorDash or Uber Eats wasn’t possible for establishments like Manresa.
For one thing, Friedland said, bakeries have to plan their production demand days in advance, making it impossible to know what demand would come from a traditional food delivery service.
Too many unsold orders would be a disaster, he said, because baked goods go bad quickly.
Friedland said that for consumers it didn’t make sense to order two pastries at an average price of $5.00 each.
“If you’re using DoorDash,” he said, “you end up paying $25 when commissions and delivery are factored in.”
Friedland said he and Clark decided that ordering ahead might solve the problem and that changing just one $5 delivery charge would lower the price paid by consumers.
Local customers can order from as many locations as they want each week and will only pay the $5 delivery fee per week. Locale currently offers delivery from 44 restaurants, 37 bakeries, 30 farms, 11 creameries, eight butchers and fishmongers. and 11 cafes and juice shops.
The business model
So how do Friedland and Clark make a profit?
Friedland said this stems from the wholesale price Locale pays the various food establishments for their products, discounts typically between 10% and 20% off the retail price.
Delivering customers pay the retail price.
Venture capital money is starting to flow into their business. The startup in May attracted initial venture capital funding of $14 million in a first round led by Andreessen Horowitz, a well-known Silicon Valley venture capitalist.
Independent contractors using their own cars or refrigerated trucks driven by employees delivered orders that are usually prepared on Fridays or for bakery items early Saturday morning to ensure freshness.
While baked goods will be delivered fresh, some products such as pizzas will be half-baked and then frozen. Ten minutes in the oven is supposed to finish it at home.
Some popular offers
Friedland said delivery customers are happy with the quality, noting that pizza from Pizzeria DelFina is one of the most popular items among Locale’s offerings.
“It was amazing,” Delfina owner Annie Stoll said of the Locale platform. She said $1,000 to $2,000 in sales per week came from Locale.
As for the quality of the pizza, Stoll said, “People will say it’s very, very close to eating it at a restaurant. It’s almost better than having our pizza delivered because it’s hot when you take it out of the oven.
A frozen margherita pizza sells for $18 on Locale.
Another popular local produce vendor, Bochik’s Bagels, also sells its frozen bagels.
“My bagel philosophy is that the best bagels are very fresh out of the oven,” said bagel shop owner Emily Winston.
She said if that’s not possible, the bagel should be eaten that day, before it goes stale.
Freezing, she says, is a third option.
Winston said bagels sold by Locale are sliced and then frozen after being baked in his store.
“A bagel stays awesome in the freezer,” she said. “You take it out, it’s already sliced, you put it in the toaster, and in two minutes you have a delicious bagel.”
A six-pack of frozen bagels sells for $18 through Locale or if picked up at Winston’s Berkeley store.
Friedland said Locale is very selective in choosing only quality food vendors. He said around 50 applied each week, but only a few were chosen.
While Locale’s food offerings span the globe in terms of cuisine, Friedland said certain foods are avoided.
Fried chicken and sushi are intentionally not part of the offerings for delivery customers. They just don’t hold up well on delivery.
Reverse delivery coming soon?
Friedland said Locale is also working with several Sacramento restaurants to bring their food to the Bay Area via delivery. He said one establishment is Soloman’s on K Street downtown.
He said some of the Soloman offerings that will be carried to the Bay Area include bagels, cream cheeses, totkes (Soloman’s version of latkes), empanadas, Japanese cheesecake and sea salt chocolate chip cookies.
Friedland said the Sacramento area seems like a logical extension for Locale, since many area residents visit the Bay Area to eat at restaurants.
Another factor in the expansion, he said, is the number of Bay Area residents who moved to Sacrament during the pandemic but are missing their old meals.
“It’ll be nostalgia for them,” Friedland said of Locale’s offerings.