How Souvla is Capitalizing on the Delivery Craze in San Francisco

In this episode of On Foodable, we are at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, where Paul Barron sits down with Charles Bililies, Founder and CEO of Souvla— Lyft’s most traveled-to restaurant in the United States in 2017.

Souvla is a “fast-fine” Greek-American restaurant that Bililies dreamt up about nine years ago, inspired by casual souvlaki joints found throughout Greece.

“Souvla is very much Greek through and through, but nowhere around there will you see “traditional” or “authentic”. We definitely took a lot of liberties as I created the menu,” said Bililies. “Everything on there is sourced locally or it’s coming in from Greece. It’s sorta this Californian-Greek, if you will.”

Essentially he wanted to modernize the way people looked at gyros or souvlaki sandwiches here in America.

Bililies opened the first location in 2014 after about five years of looking for the perfect real estate location. Shortly after Souvla opened, he started seeing the rise of delivery becoming a “thing” in San Francisco.

Fast forward to today, on average, Souvla can pump out between 150 and 225 delivery orders a day. An impressive number coming from an upscale counter service restaurant.

With delivery in mind, Bililies decided to open its fourth location in the Marina neighborhood with a sidewalk facing pick-up window. They successfully were able to lobby the city to allow them to put in a white zone or a passenger loading zone. Bililies believes this is going to be a huge allure and convenience for customers since by doing this people won’t have trouble finding parking or worrying about double parking, etc.

Check out the episode above to see footage of their new location, learn about the restaurant’s menu offerings, and its magic price point making the concept above fast casual but still under fine dining.

Video Produced by:

Vanessa Rodriguez

Vanessa Rodriguez

Writer & Producer


VIEW BIO

Square's Caviar Is Another Food Ordering Service Player in the Delivery Space

Have you ever tried Caviar? No. I don’t mean the pickled roe of sturgeon eaten as a delicacy.

Caviar is a food ordering service for popular restaurants that was acquired in August of 2014 by Square, Inc., the business tools company famous for its point-of-sale software.

What’s interesting about this platform is that it only features a hand-curated list of restaurant partners.

“We have teams with deep local knowledge that hand-curate our restaurant list focused on working with the best restaurants in every city across cuisine types and price points,” said Nick Adler, Caviar’s market operations lead. “Our close restaurant partnerships, in combination with our full logistics and marketing solution, enable Caviar to offer quick and reliable delivery and pickup, helping businesses to reach more customers, grow their sales, and expand their reach.”

Since the acquisition, Caviar’s weekly order volume has grown more than 11 times according to Adler, who’s been working for the company for over two and half years leading all locals teams that work with the couriers and restaurants on the ground in each market the platform serves. “Delivery and pickup are great ways for restaurants to grow sales beyond their tables, which is aligned with Square’s founding mission to ensure that a seller never misses a sale,” explains Adler referring to the reason why Square decided to get into the food delivery business.

To further Square’s mission, Caviar provides a variety of cross-channel, co-marketing services for restaurant partners, which includes in-app alerts and banners, email, and social mentions. In addition, professional photography of each restaurant and every dish available for delivery is provided by the San Francisco-based company. 

One of Caviar’s exclusive restaurant partners is Souvla, a greek-inspired fast casual concept that continues to expand in the Bay Area. The restaurant’s owner, Charles Bililies, told the San Francisco Chronicle, “In 2014, delivery was zero percent of the business...now, it’s about 24 percent of the business, which is pretty remarkable,” leading him to take into account orders from Caviar with each new location opening. This explains the need to food delivery services like Caviar, UberEATS and Postmates, to name a few.

Caviar has partnered with thousands of restaurants across the country, featuring high-profile chefs like Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen, Rick Bayless of XOCO and Red O, Ken Oringer of Coppa and Toro and recognized restaurant groups like Garces Group in Philadelphia and The Meatball Shop in New York. The platform operates in specific areas, in the following locations: California, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington State.

To learn more about Caviar, Foodable asked Nick Adler the following questions:

How does Caviar differentiate itself from its competitors?

Adler: Without referring to specific competitors, many of them don’t have a true partnership with restaurants and place phone orders without partnering with them. We are 100% focused on food. We don’t transport people, retail products, or other non-food items. Due to this focus on food, we’ve built unique competencies around food delivery - inclusive of presentation, packaging, operations and logistics - which allows us to deliver the best experience for diners, restaurants and couriers.

How do you ensure quality of the food when it’s being delivered through the Caviar courier service?

Adler: We only partner with couriers with thermal bags and the best equipment (like food separators, bikes with racks for pizza when applicable, etc.), work with our restaurant partners to use the best packaging for every type of food we deliver, and use smart algorithms to make sure the timing for each order is seamless and matches with the right courier. Our restaurant partnerships give us more data and information to learn from, and we’re always improving our algorithms with more inputs and variables that make them super accurate.

New life goal: Make sure #Fridays always taste this good 🍩

A post shared by Caviar (@trycaviar) on

Timing is a huge consideration when thinking of keeping food fresh and at the right temperature. The courier needs to arrive at the restaurant just as the restaurant finishes preparing the food, so it’s not waiting around on the counter, and the courier needs the right equipment and information to get the order to the diner fast.

What are all the services you provide to your restaurant partners?

Adler: We provide restaurants with an app to manage all their orders, pickup and delivery logistics such as matching couriers to deliver food, a range of marketing solutions, as well as consultation and expertise about their online menu and packaging. We also ship in-house [print] collateral to restaurants we work with to help educate their customers about all the ways they can order their favorite food. Some additional features include: pre-order for up to a week in advance, shared carts for large groups, and Caviar for Teams, a streamlined catering option. We do share high-level, anonymized data with our restaurants so they can better understand where their customers are ordering from, when they’re ordering, and what they’re ordering to make smarter business decisions.

How does the Caviar app for the back-of-house kitchen staff work?

Adler: Every restaurant can customize their app and experience for the kitchen staff to receive orders and to make sure that the process is optimized for their restaurant and operation. Each establishment has the option to integrate with kitchen printers directly so back-of-house staff can review orders as they come in, directly from the restaurant’s Caviar app.