Delivery-only eateries delivering the goods

New Ubin Seafood co-founder Pang Seng Meng with a Deliveroo rider. The meats and rice bowl dishes are quick to prepare and suitable for delivery, offering access to a new market without alienating the eatery's existing customer base, said Mr Pang.
New Ubin Seafood co-founder Pang Seng Meng with a Deliveroo rider. The meats and rice bowl dishes are quick to prepare and suitable for delivery, offering access to a new market without alienating the eatery's existing customer base, said Mr Pang.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Concept catching on with both customers and restaurants, which also save on rent and costs

New eateries Vios by Blu Kouzina and Truly Singaporean Grill opened to residents in the Katong area a few months ago, but no one's been able to get a table.

This is because they are not exclusive restaurants requiring reservations months in advance, but a new breed of eateries in which customers do not dine in. Instead, orders are delivered to their homes.

Food delivery company Deliveroo has expanded a kitchen concept called Editions to be shared between nine eateries, up from four since its April launch to offer more delivery options in the east.

The additions include brands with no physical dine-in space for customers anywhere in Singapore.

Such delivery-only restaurants are set to become more prominent, as operators said they are able to experiment while saving on rental and manpower costs. Grain bowl concept Vios, for example, touted as Singapore's first "in-app only restaurant", is able to price its items $3 to $4 cheaper than its competitors, thanks to overhead savings, said founder Gigi Tsakiris.

Popular Dempsey Road Greek restaurant Blu Kouzina, which had partnered food delivery service Deliveroo prior to joining Editions, saw its delivery revenue jump more than five-fold within its first two months on Editions. The success prompted the creation of a new delivery-only concept, said Ms Tsakiris, 26, the daughter of Blu Kouzina's founders.

CONVENIENCE A KEY FACTOR

The shift towards e-commerce has started to affect the food and beverage industry, with customers making their dining decisions based on convenience and the variety of choices provided by food delivery platforms.

BROTZEIT CHIEF EXECUTIVE FILIPPO FANIN

"Many of the dishes at Vios utilise the same ingredients that Blu Kouzina uses and both food and beverage concepts are run by the same kitchen team in the same space at the Deliveroo Editions kitchen", which maximises resources while offering two different menus, she said.

Vios launched in August and has seen "a good amount of orders" so far, she added.

Bib Gourmand-rated zi char restaurant New Ubin Seafood in Hillview Avenue launched a streamlined version of its menu under the brand Truly Singaporean Grill through Deliveroo Editions last month. Co-founder Pang Seng Meng said the selection of meats and rice bowl dishes are quick to prepare and suitable for delivery, offering access to a new market without alienating New Ubin Seafood's existing customer base.

A team of two to three chefs work the 15 sq m kitchen space at a time, while the business is able to save about 20 per cent on front-of-house labour, in addition to utility and other costs, said Mr Pang.

Deliveroo has plans to open more Editions kitchens in the heartland next year, its Singapore general manager Siddharth Shanker told The Sunday Times. "Once we get the formula right, we can expand fairly quickly... (Customers) can expect more new to market concepts," he said.

He said Deliveroo provides the kitchen equipment and charges tenants a commission on orders rather than rental, shaving off up to 40 per cent of costs for restaurants.

 

A spokesman of rival food delivery company foodpanda said it will be launching its first shared kitchen in Woodlands in the first quarter of next year. Its kitchen, which will also operate on a commission-based model, will house up to six vendors and serve Sembawang, Woodlands and Yishun.

German restaurant chain Brotzeit, which offers delivery through foodpanda and Deliveroo, is testing new delivery-only brands operating out of its existing kitchens, said chief executive Filippo Fanin, though he declined to provide details.

Brotzeit will be adding delivery-only items to the menu while it experiments with other brands, cuisines and price points. Mr Fanin said: "The shift towards e-commerce has started to affect the food and beverage industry, with customers making their dining decisions based on convenience and the variety of choices provided by food delivery platforms."

The business is also looking into operating its own shared kitchens for new brands, with a portion rented out to other online-only operators. "We believe that online sales will outpace the growth in dine-in restaurants over the next few years... Regular restaurants will need to adapt their business model to ensure that (they) cater to both," Mr Fanin said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 17, 2017, with the headline 'Delivery-only eateries delivering the goods'. Print Edition | Subscribe