There’s no shortage of food delivery startups out there, but Goldbely wants to tap into something more than nourishment: nostalgia.
The 4-year-old startup ships dishes from some of the best-known restaurants in the nation, like Joe’s Pizza in New York, Prantl’s Bakery in Pittsburgh, and Honolulu Fish Company in Hawaii. The food arrives chilled in just a couple of days, ready pop in the oven or eat straight out of the box.
‘Democratizing the food industry’
Goldbely was founded by Joe Ariel, a serial entrepreneur who previously headed up Eats.com and Delivery.com. He founded Goldbely in 2013 inspired by what he experienced during college: While attending school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, he got hooked on Tennessee cuisine, but was never able to replicate it after leaving the region for New York and then San Francisco.
He decided to build Goldbely to help local restaurateurs and small businesses get national exposure — he calls it “democratizing the food industry.”
Goldbely is selective about which restaurants are admitted onto the platform — Ariel says only about 5% of restaurants that apply are accepted. Right now, there are about 300 vendors on Goldbely.
Beyond offering individual dishes, Goldbely also has 15 subscription options, including cookies, barbecue, bacon, and pizza. By opting for the pizza subscription, for example, you’ll receive a pizza each month from a different restaurant. The pizza subscription costs $59 per month.
That brings up the issue of price, one of the common gripes with food delivery services. For $59, you could probably get at least four pizzas at your local pizzeria.
But the costs make more sense when you break it down. I got to test three items from Goldbely, one being a Primanti Bros. sandwich kit, a staple of the Pittsburgh diet. The kit served six to eight people and came disassembled — cheese in one package, french fries (that needed to be cooked) in another, a loaf of bread, and so on. The kit costs $99, which for eight people, comes to about $12.38 per sandwich. At a Primanti’s store, the sandwich costs $7.39. But with the cost of quick shipping and the Primanti’s t-shirt they threw in, that doesn’t seem like such an obscene price.
The Baltimore Bomb Pie, which I also received, costs $59 and also serves eight people, which shakes out to about $7.38 per slice — again, not outlandish if you’re a huge fan of that particular pie.
The one item offered on the site that threw me for a loop was the Anchor Bar wings — known to most as the “original Buffalo wings.” On Goldbely, 50 wings cost $129, a truly staggering price if you’ve ever ordered 50 wings while actually in Buffalo, where they typically cost $1 per wing. But, since most cities offer terrible chicken wings, you may be willing to go above and beyond to get the real thing.
All of this is to say that the cost of some Goldbely items can be a little prohibitive for average consumers. But Goldbely isn’t intended to be a Blue Apron or UberEats competitor. In fact, Ariel likens it more to Omaha Steaks or Harry & David’s — rather than sending a box of generic steaks as a gift, Ariel suggests Goldbely’s monthly barbecue subscription, which contains dishes like Austin’s Salt Lick BBQ Texas Brisket and Legend Central BBQ’s Dry Rub Ribs from Memphis.
The company banks on the premise that you’ll be enticed not by the snacks themselves, really, but by the memorable experience of eating your favourite birthday cake from Milk Bar or that delicious ahi tuna steak you had on vacation in Hawaii.
In short, Goldbely is making it easier to feed your most specific cravings — and supplying you with some fond memories in the process.