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David Chang Is Launching a Delivery-Only Restaurant in NYC: Report

By Nicole Levy | March 22, 2016 3:53pm
 David Chang
David Chang
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Getty/Fernando Leon

You won't be able to get a seat at Ando, a new Momofuku restaurant coming to town this spring, but that's not because you need reservations.

David Chang, the man behind the culinary empire, is launching it as a delivery-only operation, Fast Company reported.

Customers in East Midtown will place their orders via a mobile app, and delivery will be outsourced to Uber's courier service.

The menu, designed by Chang and former wd~50 chef J.J. Basil, hasn't been finalized yet, but you can expect the usual Momofuku mix of Asian flavors and American comfort food. Chang and Basil revealed that they've been experimenting with a new twist on the cheese steak that incorporates chicken, American cheese sauce and pickled peppers, a sandwich Chang said may be "the most dangerous thing [he's] eaten all year." 

Chang isn't pioneering a new business model with Ando; the restaurateur actually serves as chief culinary officer of Maple, a service launched last April that delivers farm-to-table meals to apartments and offices below 42nd Street. Unlike the ubiquitous delivery platforms Seamless\, Maple operates four kitchens itself and presents itself as a distinctive brand.

Seamless' parent company GrubHub has invested in a Maple competitor called Green Summit Group, which runs eight “restaurants” out of two kitchens. The company packages meals under different brand names, like 'Leafage and Grind Meatballs, and delivers them via Seamless.

Chasing low overheads and high sales, Maple and Green Summit Group's restaurants prioritize developing healthy meals that are efficiently prepared. (Maple focuses on a rotating limited menu of salads, sandwiches, and entrées, while chefs in Green Summit Group's kitchens cook some basic ingredients uniformly across their brands.)

But there's a vulnerability to these businesses that Chang's new joint may overcome.

"They are very convenience-driven, sometimes price-driven, but the emotional connection is soft," food industry consultant Clark Wolf said in an interview with DNAinfo last month. "It’s easier to delete something or someone you’ve never met." 

Wolf suggested that partnerships between celebrity chefs and delivery services would give diners an emotional relationship to what some have called "ghost restaurants."

Chang, who made Time's "100 Most Influential People" list in 2010, certainly fits the bill for celebrity chef, and his name alone could draw fans to Ando.