After five years of cooking up great meals and even greater memories, Kitchit has closed.
We’re honored to have been invited into our customers’ homes, and we’re so proud of the many accomplishments of our team and our chefs. Just recently, we served our 100,000th meal. While we’re hungry for more, the realities of our business leave us no choice but to conclude this chapter.
Thank you to our customers, chefs, partners, and supporters for your love and appetite along the way.
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With the help of talented local chefs, we wanted to combine the comforts and joys of entertaining at home with the quality and ease of dining out. In the process, we sought to create the world’s largest—and its first decentralized—restaurant.
Our initial service, the Kitchit Marketplace, empowered diners to connect with chefs via a peer-to-peer platform and create custom events. We partnered with top chefs—from boldface names to up-and-coming talents—as we expanded from San Francisco to Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. “Regardless of what they’re trying to do with their careers,” wrote Bon Appetit, “private, personal, restaurant, and celebrity chefs have all supported Kitchit for giving them the ability to practice what they love doing and have someone take care of the details.”
While we earned accolades from the press and our early customers, we realized internally that several factors were limiting the growth of our business. Diners had a hard time differentiating between so many talented chefs; substantial back and forth was required to plan a meal; and our price points—typically $75-125 per person—remained out of reach for most would-be users. We were determined to compete with restaurants, transform the way people eat at home, and create outstanding experiences for as many people as possible. Something had to change.
We vertically integrated our business model, playing a more hands-on role in menu creation, sourcing, and prep. For customers, Kitchit Tonight offered one-click booking and prices starting at $39 per person. For chefs, it offered guaranteed pay and more flexible hours.
The response to Kitchit Tonight was a thrill. After just 9 months, the volume of Kitchit Tonight bookings was nearly double that of the Marketplace in San Francisco, and Kitchit Tonight customers repeated 10 times as frequently. Reviews from diners were as outstanding as we’d always seen in the Marketplace, and chefs reported high levels of satisfaction with the flexible schedule and predictable pay. We also found that our customers were using Kitchit differently: We were finally being treated as an alternative to restaurants for regular, casual get togethers among friends. Moreover, the business was earning 30-40% gross profit margins—an accomplishment that was unrivaled by many food companies at scale, to say nothing of food-tech startups. We believed that these were the early indicators of the venture-scale business we’d been searching for.
In September 2015, we shut down our original marketplace, rebranded Kitchit Tonight simply as Kitchit, and started shouting from the rafters (and billboards) about our new, simplified service. Behind the scenes, we overhauled our technology platform to create a seamless experience for diners and a cutting-edge solution for managing our ever-growing workforce. It all worked. We saw sustained monthly growth above 30% and, thanks to our tireless team, improved customer satisfaction ratings even during such rapid expansion.
Our team has always been scrappy and our customers have always been our greatest marketing channel. As a result, we’ve navigated 5 years and made the most of every dollar raised. Nevertheless, investment runways are finite, and unfortunately ours reached its end at a moment of substantial upheaval in the food-tech world.
Over the past few weeks alone, companies with substantial war chests have been shaken up. Instacart and Munchery, among others, have made substantial changes to their models to buoy their margins. Less capitalized peers have fared worse. Spoonrocket, Dinner Lab, and most recently Kitchensurfing, at times our closest rival, have all failed to garner sufficient investment to extend their work. Today Kitchit joins their ranks.
While Kitchit’s business fundamentals have always been strong, our scale has been too limited to outshine the tumult around us. So we close our doors with a mix of sadness for our customers, chefs, and employees on one hand, and on the other a recognition that our market is simply not ready to sustain a venture-scale business.
Reflecting upon where we are today, we have much to be proud of. After serving more than 100,000 diners, we have a net-promoter score of 87. Statistically, Kitchit ranks among the most trusted brands in the world. Personally, it means even more. It means that we fulfilled our founding desire to bring people together over food for truly memorable experiences. It means that our chefs honed their craft and pursued their ambitions on their own terms. And it means that our path to this point was lit by raucous laughter, full stomachs, and memories that will outlive this endeavor by many, many years.