The South Bay website offers high-end food and meal kits for home cooks who want to support local businesses.
By Heather Zimmerman
South Bay-based Locale offers weekly deliveries of fresh produce and groceries as well as meal kits and prepared items from Bay Area restaurants, merchants and farms. The delivery service was founded early in the pandemic, as stay-at-home orders ushered in a new era of eating at home.
When Locale launched in May 2020, the delivery service initially focused on businesses in Los Gatos, where co-founders Jonathan Friedland and Chris Clark live. Relying on word of mouth, the service grew quickly and now boasts nearly 50 partnerships with eateries and businesses from around the Bay Area, including in San Francisco and Santa Cruz —with the one stipulation that businesses should be locally based, at least within the greater Bay Area. Its customer delivery area covers the Peninsula as far north as San Bruno, along with the South Bay and Santa Cruz, and charges a flat $5 delivery fee.
According to Friedland, Locale got started with the aim of giving customers the chance to order from multiple businesses while allowing restaurants the flexibility to sell small-ticket items, such as individual pastries, that wouldn’t necessarily be as easy to offer through large delivery companies like DoorDash or UberEats, due to the extra cost to the customer of delivery fees and tip.
“We wanted to create a way that customers could order from more than one business at a time and still keep that delivery fee really low,” Friedland said in an interview.
Rather than charge its partner businesses a delivery fee, Locale buys items from its vendors at wholesale (negotiating the wholesale price with the vendor depending on their margins), and charges a markup to customers, according to Friedland. For instance, the retail price for a carrot cake muffin from Manresa Bread is $5 purchased directly from the bakery and $6 purchased from Locale.
In giving customers the ability to purchase items from multiple businesses in one order, Locale looks to fill a different niche from the big players in food delivery, as its offerings and delivery schedule demonstrate. With its selection of ingredients and meal kits sourced from local businesses, Locale is more akin to an upscale online grocery store or farmers market. Shoppers can place orders throughout the week, but all deliveries are made on Saturdays.
Friedland also noted that curation is key to Locale’s offerings, “What we’re trying to do is create a sense of trust with our customers so that if we list a sourdough bread or pasta sauce, our customers can trust that we’ve vetted this product and it’s the best and most high-quality for a reasonable price in the area,” he said.
The fact that Locale’s offerings are curated also seems likely to help ensure the service’s staying power as more restaurants reopen and customers are less restricted to their homes.
Locale launched last spring offering just a few grocery items: avocados and berries, as well as sourdough bread from Manresa Bread, which is the bakery spin-off of the triple-Michelin-starred Los Gatos restaurant. Far beyond those initial loaves, Locale now offers an array of local produce, dairy and meats, baked goods and specialty grocery items, in addition to meal kits and some prepared items from restaurants.
A small sampling of current offerings include: meal kits from Palo Alto Georgian restaurant Bevri, dumplings from Cupertino-based Temujin Foods, margherita pizza kits from Pizzeria Delfina, cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery and organic cold-pressed juices from juice co. LG in Los Gatos. To brighten up the ambience of dining at home, there are also flowers from Los Gatos florist Bunches.
Meal kits are a major component of the delivery service’s offerings, many of which are items exclusive to Locale that were developed with partner businesses. One of Locale’s most recent additions are meal kits from Oren’s Hummus. The service previously carried Oren’s packaged hummus and dips, but expanded to meals, working with one of the restaurant’s founders to create Locale-only meal kits, according to Friedland. Likewise, though Manresa Bread has been a partner from the start, Friedland said that Locale recently revamped its menu to include the bakery’s entire selection.
“Any type of pastry that you can find in the store, we carry that on Locale,” Friedland said.
Locale’s once-a-week deliveries won’t satisfy an immediate craving but do give customers a way to help plan meals — and a little something to look forward to. The Saturday delivery schedule was designed to allow restaurants adequate time to plan and prep meal kits during lulls in business, according to Friedland. Deliveries are made within a five-hour window each Saturday, although customers wanting more predictability can pay an extra $3 to narrow that window to two hours.
Locale aims to continue expanding in the Bay Area with new partners. The service also refreshes its current offerings periodically.
“Our service is more about trying new things, so we always try to switch things up at least once every two months or so just to keep things new,” Friedland said.
For more information on Locale and how to order, click here.
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