Philly restaurant ships 12,000 cheesesteaks in one week

Goldbelly has a corporate mandate that seems tailor-made for these unspeakably difficult times: “Our mission,” the website states, “is to bring comfort through food.”

If ever there were a time when people need comfort, it is right now, as the global death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to rise and so does the country’s anxiety level. 

“We’re working double time right now to onboard many more partners,” says Joe Ariel, co-founder and CEO of Goldbelly, which ships regional comfort food right to your doorstep.

Goldbelly says its sales are up more than 100% across all categories since much of the country shuttered eat-in dining to contain the coronavirus, and up more than 200% for some local classics including New York City bagels, Philly cheese steaks, Chicago pizzas, and Southern barbecue. 

Iconic Pat’s King of Steaks sold 12,000 cheesesteaks last week alone through Goldbelly, and 40,000 of them in the last month, Ariel told Yahoo Finance’s “The Final Round” this week. New York shops, located in the epicenter of the nation’s pandemic, sold 100,000 bagels through Goldbelly last month, he said. Ariel told Yahoo Finance that Pat’s wrote Goldbelly and said, “We’re doing virtually no volume except for Goldbelly shipping orders.”

‘We’re moving as fast as we can’

Goldbelly was founded in 2013 and incubated at Silicon Valley hit-maker “Y Combinator,” which also had a hand in Airbnb, Dropbox (DBX), and DoorDash. (Two years ago, the company got a massive funding boost from legendary restaurateur Danny Meyer, whose Enlightened Hospitality Investments LP invested $20 million.) Goldbelly carefully selects restaurants, bakers, and food makers from around the U.S. and helps them fast-ship the food they’re famous for — everything from key lime pie to matzo ball soup. According to the company, in the last year, Goldbelly has received a staggering 10,000 requests from food businesses wanting to team up. At the moment, it works with 500 — an “acceptance rate” that rivals getting into Harvard.

But as more and more restaurants face financial ruin amid the pandemic, Goldbelly is hustling to widen its doors. “We’re moving as fast as we can to basically onboard twice as many shops as we have in the past and also coach a lot of these guys how to ship their signature dishes, many of which are extremely perishable,” Ariel told Yahoo Finance.

In the weeks since the coronavirus-related lockdown, more than 100,000 New York City bagels have shipped via Goldbelly. (Photo: Goldbelly)

Helping businesses stay afloat

Goldbelly has been a lifeline for eateries such as Bartolini’s, a family-owned Italian restaurant just outside of Chicago that recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. Famous for its 10-pound meatball sandwich, deep-dish pizza and “mama’s lasagna,” Bartolini’s employs nearly 40 people. Because of coronvavirus, it’s been nearly a month since any customers sat down in the 8,000-square-foot restaurant for a meal. Right now, the business is surviving on delivery orders and Goldbelly. Remarkably, everyone is still on the payroll. “If I didn’t have Goldbelly, I’d have to lay people off and go to a skeleton crew,” says Christopher Bartolini, one of two brothers who owns the business. “It’s a big player for us.” 

And it’s gotten even bigger since the coronavirus-related lockdown in Illinois. Bartolini says Goldbelly orders are up 300% to 400% in the last month. In fact, the demand has been so high that just last week Bartolini ordered a new 12×12 freezer to accommodate the Goldbelly orders.

Goldbelly ships Bartolini’s deep-dish pizza and other Italian dishes from Midlothian, IL to all 50 states. (Photo: Goldbelly)

The future for the food industry

No one knows what’s on the other side of the pandemic for the food and restaurant industry.

“It’s a tough time (for restaurants), and I think there’s a lot of things that are up in the air,” says Ariel, “But I think one thing is for certain: For restaurants, they really have to be thinking about different revenue streams.” Perhaps that means more local take-out or delivery or teaming up with an e-commerce business like Goldbelly.

Says Ariel, “The future is going to be diversified through a few of these different channels.”

Joe Ariel, Founder and CEO of Goldbelly, was interviewed on Yahoo Finance’s The Final Round, which airs Monday through Friday 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET.

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