Never has a McDonalds order been delivered without a stray puddle of coke, magically freed from the captivity of its plastic cup. It's a part of the experience at this point. Carefully guiding your fries away from being soaked in soft-drink; then, reassembling your burger back into form. Finally, inhaling it all before the ants smell the sugar and march down their legion.
Of course, this becomes far more of an annoyance when you're spending fifty dollars on a gourmet platter as opposed to eight-fifty on a McSpicy meal. "The experiential aspect of culinary is big now," says Shaun Smithson, co-founder of TiffinLabs, a food technology company focused on delivery. "You can't simply deliver what you'd serve to a customer in a restaurant and recreate an experience worth fifty bucks."
To provide some context for those who've forgotten what the world was like pre-pandemic, here's how the traditional restaurant dining experience changed over our time in isolation. Live entertainment was replaced by Netflix, food began arriving in paper bags instead of plates—and most tragic of all, we were left eating steak with plastic cutlery.
"[Digital restaurants] are a groundbreaking concept that revolutionise the way food is developed and delivered."
That being said, on the flip side, there was a newfound convenience. Not having to dress up, not needing to leave the house and now, relatively new to the list: not having to worry about your food arriving dismantled—if you order from the right place, that is.
La Takorea for example, TiffinLabs's newest digital restaurant created in collaboration with contestants from The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition. The idea was conceived and developed over forty-eight hours—a significant portion of which went into optimizing the food for delivery.
"There were so many different aspects to consider," explains contestant Jessica Ramella. "We needed to figure out what materials to utilize, find the right choice of packaging, make sure that the tacos stayed in shape." The recipes had to be repurposed too, taking into consideration the condiments and garnish that would work best for delivery.
Beyond that, there was the challenge of providing a convenient, yet unique experience. Using data from TiffinLabs, the team was able to zero in on customer needs. "We thought about our audience—are they in a rush? Do they have somewhere to go? Are they eating with one hand while using the phone?" Ramella says.
Such considerations prove necessary for a digital restaurant such as La Takorea distinguish itself from traditional counterparts. Along with the food, the brand works to deliver the ease and comfort which comes with dining out.
La Takorea's decision to use TiNDLE—a plant-based chicken alternative—was guided by customer research as well. "We found out that our target consumers—Millennials and Gen Z—tend to be health conscious and interested in sustainability," says contestant Nazee Sajedi. Though common in other industries, the use of data analytics is only now finding its place in the culinary world.
La Takorea opened its virtual doors last week, offering Korean-Mexican fusion food for island-wide delivery.
It might not be long until the restaurant expands to other countries in southeast Asia either. "La Takorea is an exciting example of how innovative meals can be created, scaled, and reproduced without the need for a physical store," explains TiffinLabs chairman Kishin RK. "In a time when hospitality businesses have been shutting down, [digital restaurants] are a groundbreaking concept that revolutionise the way food is developed and delivered."
La Takorea is available for delivery exclusively via GrabFood.