By Lauren Matthews Posted July 26, 2012, 2:31 PM EDT
San Francisco-based office catering service Cater2.me launched in New York City this month, offering a new way to make lunch meetings more interesting.
Zach Yungst and Alex Lorton founded Cater2.me in San Francisco in late 2010. After graduating from Wharton in 2006, the two friends headed to New York where they worked in corporate finance (Yungst at Morgan Stanley and Lorton at Oliver Wyman), before Yungst relocated to San Francisco in 2008 to take a job with Texas Pacific Group. After being subjected to one too many boring lunch spreads, the duo hatched the idea for Cater2.me as a way to connect offices with the local food scene. “We wanted to bridge the gap between corporate companies and small food businesses,” says Lorton. So far, Cater2.me has served over 800,000 meals in Silicon Valley to companies like Dropbox, Eventbrite, Genentech, Klout, and Adobe.
Cater2.me works with vendors who run food trucks, street carts, pop-up cafes, small restaurants, and farmer’s markets, targeting diversity and lesser-known ethnic cuisines, like Ethiopian food. “We go out and find them and teach them how to cater,” says Lorton. For the New York launch, Lorton and Yungst have scouted vendors like Landhaus and the Country Boys from Smorgasburg, Hester Street Fair, the Red Hook Ballfields, and the New Amsterdam Market, as well as from small local restaurants.
The young company goes through a careful vetting process with their vendors to guarantee that the food and packaging is top-notch. Cater2.me automates the ordering and billing process, and handles customer service issues directly. A rating system ensures that vendors maintain a high quality of food and on-site service. The chefs they work with are all fully licensed and have access to commercial kitchens. The vendors take care of the delivery and setup themselves. “We tell the vendors exactly where to set up the food and how it should look,” says Lorton. “They can’t just drop it at the front desk.”
Cater2.me creates a profile for every client that notes employee allergies and diet preferences. “We effectively take away the responsibility of menu selection from whoever typically handles that at the company, to make it as easy as possible,” says Lorton. “They just have to tell us that they need lunch for 50 people on Friday at noon, and we’ll have it there.” For regular clients, Cater2.me will build out a day-to-day schedule that ensures a variety of cuisines and a mix of lighter and heavier fare.
In addition to in-office lunch and dinner catering, Cater2.me can also handle one-off events, like launch parties and dinner receptions. “We partner with all sorts of vendors that can serve various price points and different crowd sizes,” says Lorton.