What to Expect From Maple, David Chang’s Gourmet-Delivery Start-Up


We’ve all had that terrible delivery experience: You’re exhausted from a hard day’s work, eagerly awaiting a juicy burger on a pillowy bun with a pile of crisp fries on the side. What’s dropped at your door couldn’t be further from the satiating meal you dreamed of; when you pull it out of the box, it’s a soggy mess of starch, cold beef, and flaccid strips of potato.

Craft beer nemesis David Chang and a group of entrepreneurs are trying to change that. With Maple, their goal is to deliver the same quality fare as you’d be served in the restaurant — in around 15 minutes.

Starting early next year, the group plans to use technology to improve the delivery experience. Partners Caleb Merkl, Akshay Navle, and William Gaybrick all have backgrounds in delivery, mobile tech, and finance. “I’m excited to partner with a team who is equally committed to pushing the status quo of food and technology. Together, we hope to redefine what people expect from delivery in New York City,” Chang told the Voice in a statement.

The partners’ aim is to develop algorithms similar to those used by FedEx to improve the quality of eats dropped off at your door — in this case, equations will figure out how to complete orders based on users’ proximity to the company’s commissary kitchens. And that, they say, will cut down the transit time of the food.

A company spokeswoman says the initial plan is to start with a location-based beta in Manhattan, though she wouldn’t divulge which part. And there’s no word yet, either, on whether Maple will branch out into other boroughs.

With tax, delivery, and tip included, the company plans to charge somewhere between $12 and $15 per meal, each of which will be available through online ordering through a special app. And each dish will be devised solely for the service, meaning everything has been developed with transit in mind.

While Chang is the chief culinary officer, he plans to bring other New York chefs into the mix, as well as food suppliers and farmers, for the daily rotating menus for lunch and dinner. Maple plans to announce the members sometime in the next few months.

Besides Chang and Gaybrick, investors in the project include Matt Salzberg of Blue Apron and Sweetgreen investor Kal Vepuri.

At this point, the company has declined to offer many particulars about the service, though it promises to divulge further details closer to the 2015 launch.