At a time when both restaurants and customers have had to adapt to takeout and delivery models for dining out, Praveen Kumar stands ahead of the curve. The founder of FaveKitchens, a Seattle-based food tech startup, has created a delivery-only model that helps family-owned restaurants survive—and grow—in this new digital world. The FaveKitchens team now provides a way for consumers to effortlessly order from their favorite local kitchens (hence, the company name), while building demand for those restaurants.
Kumar began conceptualizing this startup in the spring of 2019, while working toward his Certificate in Business Administration through the University of Washington’s Professional & Continuing Education program. What started as an expansion plan for restaurant owners has greatly evolved. Trends were already shifting toward delivery and takeout, and Kumar predicted this could be the future of the restaurant world. However, he says, since the Covid-19 crisis began, things have “gone up 10 times.” For restaurants, he explains, “Now it has become a survival plan.”
For the consumer, benefits abound. Diners can place mix-and-match online orders to enjoy meals from preferred eateries in the comfort of their own home, without having to travel across town for pickup. Geetha Madhuri, company CEO and wife of Kumar, selects only lauded restaurants with high ratings (above four stars). Plus, the menu offers great culinary variety that suits everyone’s cravings. One household can enjoy various types of cuisine from multiple restaurants—from chicken teriyaki to mac and cheese. That will continue to grow. By August or September, customers will be able to choose between six or seven types of cuisine. The best part? Customers can feel good about supporting their community’s family-run businesses.
Ramya Balachandran, FaveKitchens’ first working partner, co-owns two Indian restaurants on the East Side with her chef husband, Ajay. Their restaurants, Aahaar in Snoqualmie and Kathakali in Kirkland, have received much press and praise for offering some of the region’s best Indian food. When Balachandran and Kumar initially spoke about FaveKitchens, she had plans to expand into Seattle; then everything came to a standstill. She says working with the startup felt low-risk, low-capital, and like a “no brainer.” It offered the opportunity to bring both restaurants into Seattle, which she admits would otherwise be incredibly difficult. “It is about taking risks,” she says. “Why not turn this into an opportunity?”
Kumar has seen firsthand how hard it is for restaurateurs to find a location, complete the buildout, and get everything signed off by the city and health board—a process that typically takes at least a year. “It’s a lot of time and capital,” he explains. With the FaveKitchens model, however, restaurants can control the overhead, incur no upfront costs to enter the Seattle market, and start generating revenue from day one. They also have access to a dedicated kitchen with walk-in cooler and freezer, and only have to worry about back-of-house operations (meaning zero facility maintenance costs and no need to factor in costs like garbage and dishwashing).
Thanks to FaveKitchens, Balachandran now offers customers the entire Aahaar menu via delivery. Plus, she launched the new Agraharam brand, which features all vegetarian cuisine. Eventually the pair hopes to bring Kathakali into the mix as well, which would involve the production of an additional 60 dishes.
The platform’s delivery radius is currently time-based versus mileage—within 15 minutes so that the food stays warm and flavorful in the box. Due to the pandemic, FaveKitchens has also procured a sterilization device that, according to the vendor, sanitizes the box’s outer surfaces with pulsed UV light.
Kumar always believed his concept offered a much-needed solution to family-owned restaurants. “After Covid,” he says, “it makes much more sense and is even more meaningful.” Balachandran adds, “We want to thank FaveKitchens for the wonderful opportunity. They gave us a platform to set foot in the city.”
Visit FaveKitchens.com for more information, and to take advantage of the current special: Chicken/Goat Dum Biryanis for $9.99.