There are three words which, whether you are a harried commuter, a college student cramming for an exam, or a parent with kids hanging off your arms like monkeys, can sound like the call of an angel:
Let’s order in.
Consider this your personal angelic announcement: Not only is Ben Yehuda Pizza now using the Grubhub mobile app to facilitate delivery around the Greater Washington area, but the Chinese restaurant located across the way from Ben Yehuda has been purchased and will re-open as kosher Chinese takeout spot Holy Chow.
For Ben Yehuda owner Josh Katz, the addition of delivery was a long time coming. With the rise of mobile food delivery apps, Katz is using Grubhub as a cost-effective way to respond to longstanding customer demand. Customers can go to Grubhub online or on their mobile devices to place orders for delivery; they can also be redirected to Grubhub through Ben Yehuda’s website by clicking “Delivery” on the home page. (Delivery orders cannot be called in to the store.) Orders can even be placed for the following day. There is a $10.00 order minimum and a $2.99 delivery fee.
If there is sufficient buy-in from the community over an extended period of time — Katz currently plans to use Grubhub for the next year — then he can look into in-house delivery service, an ideal arrangement from a customer service standpoint, he said.
The geographic reach for delivery is currently unclear. “"Grubhub hasn’t given me a solid map,” said Katz. “They told me they generally keep it to a 15 to 20 minute drive. I had an employee that tried to order from College Park and that didn’t work; I don’t know if anybody tested it out in Rockville yet.” Katz is encouraging customers to let him know if they are outside the app’s range to help him build an accurate map.
Meanwhile, ever since he moved to Silver Spring's Kemp Mill neighborhood as a teenager over 20 years ago, Ami Schreiber has waxed poetic about how much sense it would make for Chin & Lee Chinese Carry Out to go kosher. Kemp Mill Shopping Center draws shoppers from around the Greater Washington area to Shalom Kosher, a full-service kosher grocery store, and the walk-in traffic alone from the nearby synagogues and yeshiva made it a no-brainer to him.
When Chin & Lee announced it was going up for sale, friends reached out to Schreiber about putting his money where his mouth is. After months of back-and-forth negotiations with the owner of the existing restaurant and meetings with prospective business partners and investors, Schreiber made a successful eleventh-hour in September. He will be gaining physical access to the property Nov. 1, and hopes to do a two-week soft opening in the near future — a grand opening on Christmas will be a hoot if he can swing it.
While not liberty to disclose the identities of all of the partners yet, Schreiber confirmed that one partner is Uri Herzog, a 22-year veteran of the food industry and owner of Chopstix in Teaneck, New Jersey.
Schreiber intends for the restaurant to serve the entire Greater Washington area, not just Kemp Mill. The level of research he and his wife Rivka put into maximizing the reach of Holy Chow through delivery and social media is impressively formidable.
“I want to be the Amazon of the food industry,” said Schreiber, a software developer for Microsoft. He aims to operate with daily central delivery points in Maryland, DC, and Virginia, is working on software to take orders submitted via text message, and is using online survey data from the community to craft Holy Chow’s menu. His idea of a soft-opening sounds distinctly like restaurant beta testing.
When Holy Chow is ready to open its doors, you’ll definitely be hearing about it in Kol HaBirah!
By Rachel Kohn
Rachel Kohn is editor in chief of Kol HaBirah.