Food delivery apps help you get pizza and salads without having to talk to restaurants at all. You might go for days without even needing to think about who’s making your food. But meal delivery startup Caviar wants to highlight where your dollars have actually been going when you order all those pizzas and salads. It’s created a permanent, eye-catching section at the top of its app dedicated to businesses owned by or powered by women.
So far, only a handful of restaurants are included in the section of the app — 34 near me in downtown Manhattan. But users also get the ability to nominate other eateries to be included through a Google form. The criteria: any restaurants that have women as head chefs in the kitchen, as business owners, or as leaders of teams.
The partnership does feel a bit gimmicky in ways. Caviar partnered with Pineapple Collaborative, a platform for women to talk about and share experiences with food, so the section on the app is weirdly called “Women-Powered with Pineapple.” There’s a tagline that also feels awkward: “Led by ladies, picked by Pineapple,” which sounds gross.
What’s more, the section in the app doesn’t display the faces of women or even any identifying details as to whether a business is owned by a woman or has a woman head chef. Tapping on any restaurant just brings you to the usual menu of food. Still, Caviar says it plans to host events with women-led restaurants in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and DC to raise awareness.
It’s rare, perhaps unheard of to see a food delivery app highlight restaurants where women lead the kitchens or own the business. Sure, some food delivery apps have tried to make local restaurants feel included and seen. For example, tech start-up Slice built its reputation on trying to connect local pizzerias without much of an online presence to attract customers who prefer ordering in.
Caviar, Postmates, DoorDash, and Uber Eats have also gone a different route by experimenting with delivery-only pop-up kitchens, where they partner with local restaurants to deliver food without a physical presence. That can also boost restaurants’ sales, but with minimal sense of community-building.
We’re not getting that community-building here either because the feature is so limited, but it’s still an intriguing idea. We’d like to see more apps and restaurants try to bring us closer to the kitchen — and do it better.