Restaurant Roundup: NYC Burger Chain Buys NFT Restaurant; DoorDash Launches Flower Delivery

NYC Burger Chain Buys NFT Restaurant

This week, two days before major restaurant brands McDonald’s and Panera Bread made headlines for their trademark filings showing plans to open metaverse restaurants, New York-based online ordering solutions provider Lunchbox actually beat them to the punch.

Read more: McDonald’s New Special Sauce? McMetaverse, With 10 Trademarks Already Filed

The company announced in a Tuesday (Feb. 8) press release the launch of its first virtual restaurant. Additionally, Lunchbox stated that it is selling the restaurant on nonfungible token (NFT) marketplace OpenSea to Astoria, New York-based, 35-location, full-service burger chain Bareburger. Proceeds from the sale are going to an unnamed organization offering business support to “marginalized entrepreneurs in the culinary industry.”

Orders placed at the virtual location will be delivered to customers’ physical homes. Now, it is looking like consumers may be able to order a metaverse burger from this small NYC chain before they ever get to order a Big Mac in cyberspace.

“With this launch, we’ll be able to continue pushing the conversation forward when it comes to how third-party companies and first-party companies interact,” Lunchbox CEO and Co-Founder Nabeel Alamgir said in the release.

Bareburger CEO Euripides Pelekanos commented in the release: “We’ve never shied away from technology, but the metaverse allows us to reach our guests in a way no other technology has in the past. Lunchbox’s virtual restaurant allows us to showcase our offerings in the ever-evolving digital neighborhoods and communities of the metaverse which we’re excited to be a part of.”

DoorDash to Drive Adoption of Non-Restaurant Categories with Valentine’s Day Flower Deliveries

As food delivery services struggle to make the economics of the model work, those that have been successful are those that can leverage their networks for a range of differentiated products and services.

Read more: Delivery Aggregator Losses Point to Economic Value of Platform Model

In a move to capture consumers’ Valentine’s Day spending and encourage adoption of its non-restaurant, on-demand delivery offerings, DoorDash announced in a Wednesday (Feb. 9) DoorDash Newsroom post the launch of its same-day flower delivery through the holiday.

“This news follows a multi-year journey of fulfilling on-demand delivery for florists via its own channels with DoorDash Drive, DoorDash’s white-label fulfillment service, and continues DoorDash’s trajectory of expansion into new categories beyond restaurants including grocery, alcohol, pets and retail,” the post stated.

Restaurant Management Tech Startup Raises $80M Series C

Canadian restaurant technology startup 7shifts, which creates scheduling and timesheet management software, announced in a Thursday (Feb. 10) press release that it has raised $80 million in a Series C funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. Investors’ interest in the technology comes as labor challenges persist across the industry, generating high demand for digital solutions that promise increased efficiency.

“The restaurant industry is rebounding from COVID, but hiring and retaining staff remains a challenge to sustaining this growth,” said Ram Trichur, partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, in the release. “7shifts is helping restaurants everywhere improve their operating efficiency and gives their teams the tools they need to be employers of choice.”

Back in May, the company announced a $21.5 million Series B fundraise led by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group affiliate Enlightened Hospitality Investments (EHI).

“Our business leaders have been uniformly impressed and inspired by the staff management platform 7shifts has built, and we look forward to our work together to help further propel 7shifts into becoming our industry’s gold standard,” Meyer commented in a separate press release at the time.

Virtual Food Hall Comes to University of Maryland

College campuses are proving to be a hotbed of innovation for restaurant technology, with their predominantly Generation Z undergraduates and their Gen Z/millennial graduate students among the consumers quickest to adopt new technologies. Technologies ranging from new contactless payment options to delivery robots have touched ground on these campuses, with college students eager for tech-enabled experiences that make procuring food quicker and more convenient.

Contactless ordering and payment systems creator Leslie announced in a Tuesday press release a partnership with Washington, D.C.-based ghost kitchen company Virtual X Kitchen to launch a virtual food hall, offering multiple restaurants for delivery.

“As College Park’s first virtual food hall, partnering with Leslie is a great opportunity for us to offer a variety of cuisine options for delivery that are more cost effective, support our local restaurants, and create sustainable employment opportunities for our community,” said Virtual X Kitchen CEO and Founder Nomie Hamid in the release.

These younger consumers are disproportionately likely to be high-value restaurant customers, according to data from PYMNTS’ December report “Digital Divide: Aggregators and High-Value Restaurant Customers,” created in collaboration with Paytronix, which surveyed a census-balanced panel of more than 2,100 U.S. adults about their food purchases. The study found that, while 25% of consumers overall are high spending, high frequency restaurant customers (those who order at least once a week and spend an average of more than $40 per purchase), that share soars to 35% for millennials and 42% of Gen Zers.

Get the report: Aggregators and High-Value Restaurant Customers