Craving some fresh papardelle or maybe an Oreo-style doughnut, but don’t feel like driving 20 or 30 miles to get it? Bay Area startup, Locale, will soon be at your service when it expands Monday to San Diego County with weekly doorstep delivery from 10 local purveyors.
In a departure from the familiar business model of on-demand delivery services like Door Dash and Uber Eats, Locale is willing to travel long distances of 300 or more miles to deliver prepared foods from curated vendors for a flat delivery fee of $5, no matter how many businesses you order from.
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The new service requires pre-ordering up to one day in advance of weekly deliveries on Fridays.
“In e-commerce, there are three things that people try to optimize for: speed, selection and price, and we’re going after selection and price — affordable while having an awesome selection of vendors,” said Locale co-founder Jonathan Friedland. “The only way we can do that is forego speed.”
The latest expansion to San Diego County is possible, in part, by a recent cash infusion of $14 million, led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. That investment brings to $17 million that the company has raised. Started in 2020, Locale has been operating in the Bay Area and more recently Los Angeles where together, the company is making about 1,600 deliveries a week, Friedland said.
Locale will make available more than 100 products from the 10 San Diego County businesses — from bucatini and gnocchi at Assenti’s Pasta in Little Italy to curated boxes of fresh-baked doughnuts from Broad Street Dough Co. in Encinitas. The typical order size from individual customers in Locale’s other markets has been about $110.
The pivot to San Diego County came after the company was hearing from both local businesses and consumers that they wanted delivery from places not served by conventional services.
“After talking to a bunch of people in San Diego and going out on the streets, we found there really was that demand for food outside that five-mile radius, like I love this product in Coronado but don’t want to make that trip,” said Friedland, who formed the company with high school friend Chris Clark just a year after he graduated from UCLA. “And purveyors were asking, can you take my food to San Diego?
“They view us as valuable because we can reach a whole different subset of customers.”
Food delivery services can typically take a big bite out of restaurants’ revenues. Locale’s service does not come without some cost, although Friedland says he tries to work out with each purveyor what that cost will be. More often than not, the eateries will charge Locale a discounted price for each item, and Locale will mark up the price that it charges the consumer, Friedland explained.
“Whatever each business can do is totally fine for us,” he said.
Luigi Assenti, director of operations and development for Assenti’s, said he’s hoping that the company’s alliance with Locale will broaden its geographic reach to far more customers.
“We have customers who drive down from L.A. just to get our pasta,” said Assenti, whose housemade pasta is already supplied to a large share of local restaurants. “We’re not going into this as a way for us to become way more profitable, we just want to offer our pasta to a wider audience. We’ve been offered plenty of times to work with other companies but we didn’t want our product to get lost and have the perception of being devalued by businesses we don’t necessarily align our product with.”
Other San Diego food venues that have signed on with Locale are American Pizza Mfg, Carlsbad Strawberry Company, Choice Juicery, Cravory Cookies, Goodonya, Phatties Bake Shop, Pop Pie Co., and Scratch House.
While Locale is starting small in San Diego, it hopes to expand its portfolio here to 60 to 80 local purveyors within six months. Another goal is to make San Diego’s popular culinary offerings available to locations beyond San Diego County. Friedland estimates that within one to two months, the products sold by local businesses partnering with Locale will be available for delivery to consumers in the Los Angeles area.
In San Diego County, consumers — at least for now — will only be able to order food from one business in the Los Angeles area — Burritos La Palma.
While Locale has not yet reached profitability, it is getting closed to that point in its original Bay Area market, Friedland said.
“We have a clear path to profitability,” he said, “once we get a bigger scale in each market.”