SXSW panel: Relationship between food-delivery services, restaurants works as long as customer remains first

SXSW 2016 From left: Austin chef Paul Qui discusses how food-delivery services such as Favor affect restaurants. He is joined by investor and B Capital co-founder Raj Ganguly and Favor CEO and President Jag Bath.[/caption]

When it comes to delivering food fast, a local Austin chef and the CEO of Austin-based Favor agreed the customer is still most important.

Chef Paul Qui and Favor CEO and President Jag Bath discussed striking a balance between keeping customers satisfied with both quality and speed during a March 13 panel at the 2016 South by Southwest Conferences & Festivals.

Qui said he decided to partner with Favor for delivery because he knew the company as a user himself. He also partners with uberEATS.

“At the end of the day, actually, most of my meals probably come through Favor right now,” he said. “… It’s about being in the comfort of my own home because I’ve been away 14, 15 hours.”

Qui acknowledges not all food should be delivered fast. He said Favor would not work at his upscale restaurant, Qui, but it does work for East Side King and Thai Kun, which have locations throughout Austin.

“For me it’s all about the personal service and the guest in the end,” he said. “It’s about partnering with the right company that will allow my guests to experience what I want them to experience with my food and my concepts.”

SXSW 2016 Favor CEO and President Jag Bath (right) discusses how food-delivery services can benefit restaurants. Investor and B Capital co-founder Raj Ganguly also weighed in on the discussion of eating on-demand.[/caption]

Bath said the technology companies like Favor use and location-based services have allowed their companies to thrive. However, he said food-delivery services will need to go beyond providing food fast and use available data to know what the customer likes and make recommendations based on their likes.

“That is an interesting lever for unit economics,” Bath said. “If we can prove to Paul that we can deliver a great service to his customers and continue to drive more new and repeat customers, the conversation starts moving to a performance-based conversation—a conversation that is now, ‘OK, if we’re able to drive this for you let’s start talking about a potential commission.’ … This is going to take time to educate owners and chefs on what this can do for them.”

Other food-delivery models have grown out of the service model, such as using centralized kitchens, also known as commissary or commercial kitchens, to shorten the wait for the consumer.

Qui said he already uses a commissary for his food trucks.

“For me it’s about quality control,” he said. “I have things in a centralized kitchen that I can’t necessarily do in an 8-by-10[-foot] food truck. I can make the food better. I’m a firm believer in that.

Bath said Favor is testing options to help restaurants expand. One example is looking at opening a remote kitchen for Driftwood-based Salt Lick BBQ, he said. Favor would operate the kitchen and provide delivery staffers, and the Salt Lick would bring the chefs and the food.

“It allows us to start doing things that potentially could hurt the service under any other scenario like stacking,” he said, referring to grouping orders that will be delivered in similar locations. “We’re able to do that in this type of model where you have more control around seeing what’s coming in. You effectively become part of the fabric of the restaurant because you’re right there at the kitchen and you can stage [drivers] at the kitchen.”
By Amy Denney

Managing Editor, Austin metro

Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and later senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition as well as covering transportation in the Austin metro. She is now managing editor for the 10 publications in the Central Texas area from Georgetown to New Braunfels.



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