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Recurring Restaurant Delivery: The Newest Subscription Wave

Coffee shop closed by covid-19 with workers picking up and cleaning inside

2020 posed unprecedented challenges for the restaurant industry. Limitations on dine-in seating capacity, a decline in customer numbers, and ever-changing restrictions challenged business owners, chefs, and wait staff alike. Loss of revenue put many businesses in a difficult and very real predicament: pivot or perish.Luckily, the restaurant industry is great at thinking on its feet. Whether they’re inventing delicious new frankenfoods (cronut, anyone?) or operating successful restaurants out of kitchens the size of broom closets, industry professionals have always been great at reinvention and innovation. This past year was no exception. We all watched with awe as restaurants performed the business equivalent of unpacking a Chopped box full of gummy bears, Cheetos, and saltine crackers and whipping up a dish worthy of a Michelin star. 

Many neighborhood spots swapped in-person dining for takeout, bars across the country continued to serve their regulars with packaged to-go cocktails, and restaurants started looking more seriously at the subscription model. If HelloFresh, Blue Apron, and Home Chef could deliver food to a loyal subscriber base, could they do it, too? 

As someone who lives and breathes foodie-friendly subscription boxes, this is an exciting development. (A subscription to my favorite local restaurant? Heck, yes, please!) That said, it’s also one that has emerged from a challenge that hits close to home. Not that long ago, I ran my own small-batch neighborhood bakery. I was lucky enough to sell and begin my next chapter before the impacts of COVID started making waves, but I often wonder: would my business have survived? Many have not, and lots more are holding on by a thread. 

It finally seems like a return to “real life” might be just around the corner, but restaurants still need our help. Have you been looking for ways to help support your favorite local spots? Do you like the idea of subscribing to a restaurant? Then read on to learn more about how restaurants around the country are delivering recurring meals to hungry subscribers. I’ve put together a list that highlights some of the ways you can support great eateries AND indulge that subscription addition. 

The Third Place

If you live in San Francisco, The Third Place will connect you with local restaurants (and bars, florists, bakeries, and tea shops) that offer unique subscription programs.

Images via The Third Place.

There are dozens of listings to choose from, and The Third Place offers subscriptions for everything from farm shares and tea tastings to personalized craft beer selections, DIY floral arrangements, and meals. They work with an impressive number of local restaurants in the Bay Area, and when you place an order, you can make a one-time purchase or set up a recurring subscription. Some highlights include a 3-course meal for two from the Michelin award-winning Lord Stanley ($42.50 per person), hawker-style eats from Dabao Singapore ($56 for 2 entrées & dessert), and bakery staples from Jane (packages range from $42-$45 per shipment).

Subscription fees range from $30 to $300. You can set up an account online or manage your subscriptions through The Third Place app, where you can also check out featured businesses, see what your friends are eating, engage with the community, and arrange for pickup or local delivery.

Summerlong Supper Club

Summerlong Supper Club launched in New York City in 2020, and expanded into D.C. last month. Here’s how Summerlong Supper Club works: after signing up for a subscription, you receive one dinner per week from a participating restaurant. Each meal includes a starter, a main course, and a dessert, and tip is included. (Delivery, tax, and beverages cost extra.)

The company works with independant spots to deliver prepped and cooked subscription meals (note that some light assembly might still be required). Best of all, unlike some of the big delivery services that charge participating eateries a substantial fee, 100% of what you pay for meals from Summerlong Supper Club goes to the restaurant.

NYC subscriptions cost $440 (8 dinners x $55) when paid in advance, or $70 per week. Participating restaurants include neighborhood spots like Colonia Verde, Bib Gourmand picks like La Vara, and even Atoboy, a two-star Michelin gem. The subscription is mid-cycle at the moment and signups are currently closed, but you can keep an eye on the website for updates and future program announcements.

The D.C. chapter launched in March with the goal of signing up 500 diners and ended up more than doubling that, selling out over 1,000 subscriptions within six days. If you’re a D.C. diner who missed the boat, keep an eye on the @summerlongsupperclubdc Instagram page; it sounds like something new might be in the works soon!

Table22

Table22 teams up with restaurants and businesses across the country to offer subscriptions to cooking classes, cocktails, meals, and more.

Images via Table22.

There are currently over 40 cities featured, and some experiences are even available nationwide.

If you’re located in Memphis, you can sign up for a subscription to scratch-made sauces and seasonal cocktails from Restaurant Iris; those in New Orleans can sign up for a wine & pantry box from Restaurant August; Denverites can subscribe to sour beer and cheese pairing from Goed Zuur; Boston’s Saltie Girl sends tinned seafood and caviar nationwide.

Goldbelly

If you live further off the beaten track or want delicious restaurant goodies sent cross-country, check out Goldbelly, a company that specializes in long-distance delivery.

Images via Goldbelly.

Goldbelly works with a number of famous and beloved culinary institutions. Want pizza? You can place a one-time order for Detroit-style frozen pies from Michigan’s Buddy’s Pizza. In the mood for farm-to-table Japanese? What about a meal kit from the James Beard award-winning The Slanted Door. You can also place an order for sushi, donuts, BBQ, cakes, and more.

Images via Goldbelly.

If you’d rather sign up for an ongoing subscription and want to support restaurants from a particular city, Goldbelly will send goodies from a city of your choice for $79 per month. Expect to see things like gumbo, muffulettas, and po’boys in the NOLA subscription, sourdough, seafood, and cioppino in the SF Subscription, and cookies, Italian beef sandwiches, and hot dogs from Chicago.

 


Have you tried any of these restaurant subscription services? Or have you signed up for a subscription to one of your local eateries? Head to the comments section and let us know!


 

Learn About Other Subscriptions That Help Get Dinner on the Table

Want to find out about other meal subscription options? Check out these additional pages to learn more:

You can also check out our weekly menu post to see what Home Chef, HelloFresh, Blue Apron, Sun Basket, Green ChefPurple CarrotMarley Spoon, and EveryPlate are cooking up next week:


 

Written by Lindsey Morse

Lindsey Morse

Lindsey is a professional baker, cold brew coffee addict, and rosé aficionado who loves writing about food and wine. When she’s not sharing her love of subscription boxes with the world, you’ll find her in the podcasting studio, perfecting her cake decorating techniques, or cursing her way through the New York Times daily crossword puzzle.

Comments (4)

  1. I receive meals on wheels and they partner with local restaurants to deliver meals from them for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. I feel so fortunate to receive these restaurant meals. After the pandemic restaurant meals will finish, but now this is a win win situation for local businesses and the Meals on Wheels program. Government funding made this possible. I would certainly love a restaurant delivery program going forward after this is over. The cost is very reasonable at the moment.

  2. Goldbelly is our favorite pandemic find! We’ve loved sending family members gifts from their favorite restaurants while travel was on hold. We’ve also splurged some ourselves by ordering our favorite foods from former neighborhood jaunts (when we lived in San Francisco). It’s been a great way to support local restaurants during the stay at home orders. Highly recommend to anyone thinking of placing an order!!

    • Yes, we need to support our local restaurants. I especially like to order from local family owned restaurants.

  3. Ooh Goldbelly would make a great foodie gift. I might check out the LA sub too – I miss LA food trucks!

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