The U.S. restaurant industry has had to make rapid and difficult shifts in recent weeks, with patrons in most metro areas having to forego dine-in and turn to takeout service. Like the eateries they work with, restaurant service providers are making rapid business model pivots as well.
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That’s certainly been the case for Los Angeles-based Allset, a food preordering service that just announced it has raised $8.25 million in a Series B funding round. The company, which focuses on diners looking for quick meals, has seen rapid shifts in neighborhood demand patterns, as well as surging interest in promoting contactless pickup options.
With shelter-in-place directives extending to more of the population, “a lot of people are learning to do things online that they used to do offline,” said Allset CEO Stas Matviyenko. That’s leading to higher demand for food-ordering apps, even as restaurant patronage is down.
For Allset, the pandemic has caused–at least in the near term–a monumental shift in focus. In recent quarters, the company had seen its sharpest growth in busy urban centers, in particular New York’s financial district. Some neighborhoods were logging year-over-year growth of over 600 percent for the app, which allows people to preorder meals mostly at fast-casual restaurants for either takeout or dine-in.
Now, neighborhoods once packed with busy office workers are virtual ghost towns. And while there’s not much takeout for offices, Allset is now seeing more demand for services in the neighborhoods where those workers live. And of course, dine-in orders, which previously accounted for just over a third of orders, have been eclipsed entirely by takeout.
The company has put some initiatives in place during the pandemic. These include a daily discount to customers for all pickup orders placed via Allset and a waived service fee for existing restaurant partners that provide contactless pickup at their stores.
Coronavirus impacted Allset’s funding plans as well as its business model. The 5-year-old company had originally been looking for $12 million, and had commitments for over that, Matviyenko said. Now, however, more investors are looking to hold their available capital for existing portfolio companies that need more runway.
“We were able to close $8.25 million, and we think we’re lucky to get that amount,” Matviyenko said.
EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) led the financing, with participation from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Greycroft and SMRK VC Fund, as well as new investor Inovo Venture Partners. The new round brings Allset’s total investment to $16.6 million.
Allset maintains offices in the Ukranian city of Kyiv, San Francisco and New York, in addition to its Los Angeles headquarters. The company works with more than 2,500 restaurants in 11 U.S. cities.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.