Delivering gourmet-style food from a large ghost-kitchen collective in Meridian, startup Crave Delivery seemed uniquely suited for the pandemic era.
Turns out it was.
Tried to order from the app recently? You probably noticed that it doesn’t open. Nor is it available for download anymore.
Crave Delivery no longer exists, co-founder Devin Wade said. After a transitional period this summer, “It’s closed. There’s no employees, no nothing.”
Launched in 2020, Crave Delivery was forced to adjust after restaurant-industry disruption created by COVID-19 evolved, he said. Crave Hospitality Group has licensed the name, model and proprietary technology.
“We had built a tremendous amount of technology that operated that facility,” Wade said. “As the market pivoted on us, and ghost kitchens became not a thing anymore, what we were left with was a model and technology, and not an operation.
“So we licensed the technology to other groups, and we licensed out the model and the name to a group called Crave Kitchens. So they’re doing smaller versions, franchise versions, of the very large one you see in Meridian.”
Crave Kitchens does not serve Idaho. (It should not be confused with similarly named Crave Kitchen and Bar, a separate business operating in Eagle.)
Tenants still lease space at the 15,000-square-foot building at Ten Mile Crossing in Meridian, Wade said, but they aren’t tied to Crave Delivery.
During three years, Crave’s owners learned that despite the hub’s 16 ghost kitchens, multiple brands could function together in smaller spaces, he said. “We kept consolidating kitchens down. We got to a point where we could do three or four brands in each one of those kitchens.”
Even with the height of the pandemic gone, virtual brands still do business. But now they mostly share space at traditional restaurants.
“What happened is that restaurants themselves became ghost kitchens,” Wade said. “This concept of a building like Meridian didn’t make sense anymore, but the model made sense. And that just moved into existing four walls. These restaurants already had capacity.”
Despite Crave Delivery’s demise, the parent company still has shareholders. Only, now, the business dynamics have changed.
“Could we really tell during the pandemic, was this going to be a boon or a bust, post-pandemic? Nobody could, really,” Wade said.