Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Features and More

Blue Apron food-delivery service expands into Florida

Matt Salzberg thinks people shouldn't have to eat takeout Chinese or rotisserie chicken for dinner every week.

But he also knows it's tough to get to the grocery store and come up with interesting recipes night after night.

So he and his business partners, Ilia Papas and Matthew Wadiak, created Blue Apron, a food-delivery service that ships to your door all the ingredients needed to cook a meal.

"We wanted to cook at home more often, but we were so busy that we didn't have the time," Salzberg said. "To cook a recipe cost $60 and took us two days to find ingredients, and then we had a lot of waste at the end."

Blue Apron sends a box each week containing the necessary ingredients — in exact portions — to make three different meals. All the cook has to do is follow the recipes, spelled out on cards with step-by-step pictures.

Founded in New York, the year-old service is available in 30 states and plans to go nationwide by year's end. It starts delivering to Florida on Monday at blueapron.com, where customers can buy a week's worth of preset meals. Meals cost $10 each per portion — or $120 a week for a family of four.

Rolando Perez, 30, of Miami heard about the service through a friend in New York and decided to give it a try.

"I tend to eat the same stuff, and this is an opportunity to test things out," he said. "I like that the portions are supposed to exactly be what you need. I hate to look at a recipe and say, 'I don't have this.' "

Blue Apron joins the growing field of dinner kit services available in the area for people tired of eating out and ordering takeout but too harried to shop. Hello Fresh lets customers pick from several meat and vegetarian meals. Chefday! plans to expand to the Tampa Bay area this fall.

Even Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, has started grocery delivery in parts of the West Coast. The food doesn't come as ready-to-make meals, but the concept underscores the appetite for food shopping online.

Delivered dinner kits are a twist on the once-ubiquitous meal-assembly kitchens, where customers could make dishes at a retail location to take home and freeze. Places such as Let's Eat!, Super Suppers and Foodies popped up in local shopping centers but mostly folded during the recession after the novelty wore off and some people decided that the concept wasn't really cooking.

Dinner Done in Carrollwood, one of the only meal-assembly businesses left in the area, survived by relying less on cooking sessions and more on takeout and delivery, said co-owner Dan Nasser. Today, deliveries account for about 20 percent of his business, evidence of demand for services such as Blue Apron.

Blue Apron's recipes aim to appeal to fans of TV shows that portray food and cooking as fun and adventurous, Salzberg said. Recipes use not-so-ordinary ingredients such as yuzu, an Asian citrus fruit, or pink lemons.

"Everything is designed to be what you would want to cook at home on a regular basis but you probably haven't," he said.

Dinner kits have an advantage over meal-assembly kitchens because they don't have the overhead of a retail store and are accessible to a broader base.

Blue Apron believes the market for food-delivery service is huge. Prospective customers aren't just online shoppers but anyone who goes to a grocery store. And that's a very big pie.

Susan Thurston can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 225-3110.

Comments
Tampa’s 60-year-old Housewife Bake Shop may not be closing after all

Tampa’s 60-year-old Housewife Bake Shop may not be closing after all

For nearly 60 years it was breads, cakes and pastries, up before dawn for the Perrone family in Armenia Garden Estates. For a minute it looked like Tampa’s Housewife Bake Shop was going to close, but third-generation owner Tena Perrone said on Wednes...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Four new restaurants in Tampa Bay: Brazilian steakhouse, Chinese, juice bar and more

Four new restaurants in Tampa Bay: Brazilian steakhouse, Chinese, juice bar and more

TERRA GAUCHATerra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse, a classic churrascaria-style Brazilian meatery — you know, where the guys in South American cowboy attire walk around with the swords of meat until you capitulate in a carnivorous haze — has opened a loc...
Updated: 12 hours ago
This is a week to spring clean instead of hitting a movie theater.

This is a week to spring clean instead of hitting a movie theater.

It’s a spring cleaning weekend at multiplexes, with studios vacuuming every dollar from current releases before the Avengers and Amy Schumer drop in next week. If you’ve seen A Quiet Place, Ready Player One and Black Panther, this is probably a good ...
Published: 04/18/18
Desi Oakley savors pie making in ‘Waitress,’ orchestra does Verdi’s Requiem

Desi Oakley savors pie making in ‘Waitress,’ orchestra does Verdi’s Requiem

HEAD WAITRESS: DESI OAKLEYThe blue collar mother who drives the plot of Waitress never thought she could win a pie-making contest, let alone start a business."She doesn’t even have the capacity to understand that she could do this," said Desi Oakley,...
Published: 04/18/18
We critique the best and worst brands of sparkling water

We critique the best and worst brands of sparkling water

Sparkling water, much like when you shake it before opening, has exploded in the United States the past few years. The fervor for fizzy water has soft echoes of the meteoric rise of bottled water during the early 2000s, just with more pastels perfect...
Published: 04/18/18
How much water do I need? Plus, other H20 facts

How much water do I need? Plus, other H20 facts

Okay, really, how much water do we need? The Mayo Clinic says there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for this because of differences in exercise, environment, overall health and factors like pregnancy or breast-feeding. The National Academies of Science...
Published: 04/18/18
A taste test for drinking water? They can be surprisingly different

A taste test for drinking water? They can be surprisingly different

BROOKSVILLEThey brought it in glass carboys, in jars, in 2-liter bottles. It stacked up at the entrance to the auditorium, some of it just slightly murky but most of it crystal clear.Water. For more than 15 years the members of Region IV Florida Sect...
Published: 04/18/18
Five ideas for travel-friendly snacks

Five ideas for travel-friendly snacks

Whenever I fly, I pay way too much for food. I’ve stumbled jet-lagged into fancy wine booths and nearly bankrupted myself with cheese plates. I’ve purchased granola bars that cost more than my plane ticket (okay, maybe it just felt that way). If you’...
Published: 04/18/18
American Stage sets the table for a splashy park musical ‘The Producers’

American Stage sets the table for a splashy park musical ‘The Producers’

ST. PETERSBURG ­— Think early evening, daylight saving version. The earth turning away, light fading in Demens Landing Park — everywhere except the stage, which is trying its best to resurrect midday. "It looks like New York City at nigh...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Brooksville’s Live Oak Theatre presents ‘ReUnKnighted,’ a medieval misadventure

Brooksville’s Live Oak Theatre presents ‘ReUnKnighted,’ a medieval misadventure

BROOKSVILLE — How about a story about two knights who gain their knighthood, lose it, then gain it back, only to lose it again?That was the concept Kyle Marra pitched nearly three years ago to Randi Olsen, founder and creative director for the Live O...
Published: 04/17/18