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27/08/2019 – Innovation / Restaurants / Foodservice / Online / Connected / Euromonitor International

Serving the connected consumer


Today’s consumers are busier and more connected than ever. And the need for quick and easy ways to obtain a meal has never been stronger. Euromonitor International explores a few of the most interesting recent concepts enabling the connected consumer to get high-quality dishes without setting foot in a restaurant.


The foodservice industry is bigger than ever, with total global spending expected to grow 13 per cent over the next five years, to generate US$359bn in incremental value. Such flourishing growth is driven in part by technology – and by digitising the experience, consumers can get meals whenever and from wherever they like, on-demand and seamlessly. 


However, innovation and accessibility do not rest solely on restaurant operators. Third-party technology operators are more important than ever for reimagining what convenient dining looks like. Technology is redefining the way consumers eat for those dining occasions where convenience is required. The following global new concept examples demonstrate how technology helps create seamless foodservice experiences.





Launched in 2016 in Dubai by Mohammad Al Zaben and Dana Baki, this new virtual restaurant concept caters to the workday lunch crowd. Its strapline ‘Lunch for AED 25, Delivered to your Office’ succinctly illustrates the firm’s offering.


First off, users create an account on the service’s website to automate payment and address details. However, unlike most virtual restaurant concepts, LUNCH:ON does not have an app – and it advertises that fact as a selling point. 


Once registered with the service, the consumer is sent a menu of options every morning at 9:45am by text, and they are invited to reply with their meal choice by 11:15am. This action prompts LUNCH:ON to prepare the meal for delivery and charge the user automatically. The customer thereafter will receive a text once their order has arrived (around 12:30pm). Major plus-points of the innovative service include that LUNCH:ON offers no minimum amounts for orders, no tipping or hidden fees; they also rotate the menus on a daily basis.


The concept has been a major hit in the offices of multinationals including Microsoft, Samsung, Adidas, Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett Packard, GE and Mastercard. 


Earlier this year, the office lunch delivery startup raised US$3 million Series A investment, with the first closing of the round led by Wamda Capital, EATventure, Arzan VC, and Abu Nayyan Holding, while Dubai Angel Investors and AlJammaz Group also joined the round.



Work Café Santander


This free co-working concept in Chile from Cofi – a local chain of specialist coffee shops – and multinational bank Santander blurs the boundaries between a bank, a co-working area and a coffee house and is open to all. Customers of Santander will have access to a 30-per-cent discount on the cafeteria service. 


In addition to coffee, the concept offers professional financial services, meeting rooms, coffee shop-style lounge tables and seating, office supplies and access to bank specialists and financial professionals. One major attraction is the fact that Work Café Santander is open from 9am to 6pm, which differentiates it in Chile as most banks close at 2pm. In Argentina, the spaces are open 8am-8pm.


Launched in 2016 in Chile, the firm has since expanded to provide a 50-strong chain of work cafés spanning Spain, Portugal, Brazil and Argentina, working with a different coffee house chain partner in each of those territories. At the time of going to press, the firm was also set to launch its inaugural café in the UK, in the northern city of Leeds.


Santander describe the new café spaces as ‘A place to develop an idea, build your network of contacts and, why not, have a good coffee’ – a concept likely to appeal to young professionals and startups alike.



Gourmet Stop – HIGH-END vending machines


Launched in 2016, Gourmet Stop is a vending-style concept serving ready-to-eat meals in Dubai. Offerings are affordable and come directly off the menus from local restaurants. Each vending station contains up to eight different varieties of dishes at a time. With a total of eight vending stations across Dubai, consumers have up to 64 different dishes to choose from on any given day. 


Like most vending options in Dubai, the machines are situated in busy business blocks. Having a more central location helps participating restaurants reach a new set of consumers while helping those consumers to swiftly locate restaurant-quality meals.


Participating restaurants and their dishes change daily to give consumers a fresh set of options throughout the week, incentivising repeat purchases. Popular offerings include Butter Chicken, Chicken Biryani, Pizza Pockets, Beef Croquettes, Minestrone Soup, Beef Vindaloo, Vegetarian Lasagna and Samosas. Cutlery is also provided by the vending machine and is 100-per-cent biodegradable.


A spokesperson from Nomadic Capital Ltd, parent company of Gourmet Stop, said their offering – using the breakthrough Automat machine – was “nowhere near” the “poor quality” vending machine meals many people have been exposed to. “In fact, they are the exact opposite – delicious meals from local, premium quality restaurants that are absolutely amazing. There’s nothing like what we are offering in the region at all.”


For further insights on Foodservice trends, visit:

Latest issue – Vol 1/23
– Health & Nutrition focus
– Gulfood 2023 Special
– Next level legume – The rise of the chickpea
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