How MealPass Gives Restaurants A Foot Traffic Advantage

The startup requires customers to pick up their pre-ordered meals in person at the restaurant location — and eateries are reaping the benefits.

On-demand apps like Postmates and UberEats help restaurants improve discovery and simplify delivery, but eateries are praising startup MealPass for a very different reason, according to a report in Eater NY: MealPass requires customers to pick up their food in person, driving actual foot traffic to the physical business and making it more likely users will return.

“We have a brand new customer hearing the music, seeing the decorations, seeing what other people are ordering,” Bombay Sandwich Co. owner Shiv Puri told Eater. “It’s a great way to bring more awareness.” Delivery start-ups work well, but the orders can feel anonymous and transactional, he added.

MealPass, which was launched by the founder of ClassPass, allows people to prepay for all weekday lunches for $99+ per month. Participating restaurants list their upcoming lunch menus the night before, and members must choose what they want by 9:30 AM. Then, they pick up their order in person the next day.

MealPass debuted in Miami and Boston in January and made the move to New York just weeks ago, at the end of March. But while it remains to be seen how the company handles scaling, early reviews in active cities appear glowing on the part of both restaurateurs and consumers alike.

So, what’s the secret?

‘Something You Can’t Get On Seamless’

As stated, brick-and-mortar restaurants have praised the fact that MealPass users must pick up their lunch in person. This means that they must know the location of the establishment, and also that, usually, it is somewhere close to their home or place of work — making them more likely to return there in the future, even if they cease to use MealPass.

Secondly, as Puri explained to Eater, a restaurant has more of a chance to make an impact if a customer comes into a physical location, rather than only interacting with an unaffiliated Postmates courier. We’ve all heard that retail stores must give shoppers something they can’t get on Amazon, but the same can be true for restaurants; they engender more loyalty if they give diners something they can’t get on an app, whether that’s a unique experience with staff or a cool location in which to eat.

On the consumer side, a big part of the appeal links back to the on-demand economy: MealPass offers personalization and the ease of online ordering.

But the appeal appears to be more than that: There are a plethora of food delivery apps, but they don’t allow busy consumers to plan ahead. MealPass allows participants to prepay for all of the month’s lunches in one fell swoop, and then to make individual selections the night before — rather than having to scroll through seamless during the workday.

Of course, taking such orders requires restaurants to plan ahead too; that’s why the ordering cut-off is set at 9:30 AM the day of. No doubt, this can be a logistical challenge at times, but early restaurant participants appear to be coping well.

“We know [exactly] how many orders we have,” Hemant Mathur, owner of participating restaurant Haldi, told Eater. “It’s no stress.”

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.