David Chang's Delivery Startup

September 20, 2017

PUBLISHED BY Elizabeth G. Dunn

SOURCE Entrepreneur Magazine

David Chang is losing his voice. 

It’s been a busy few days, even by Changian standards. In addition to darting between the seven restaurants he runs in New York, overseeing the six others scattered from Sydney to Toronto, plotting new ventures and partnerships and accommodating the usual army of journalists ravenous for his attention, he had just flung open the doors of Fuku Wall Street, the sixth location of his fried-chicken chain. And the very next morning, he appeared outside the restaurant’s East Village address to greet sneakerheads waiting in a line for the release of his limited edition Nike Dunks: black denim high-tops emblazoned with a cartoon peach, the logo of Chang’s restaurant empire, Momofuku.

The Nike collaboration is the sort of thing that might invite snark — are we really giving chefs sneaker deals now? — except that the shoes look great, the line was around the block and, for Chang, the whole thing seems oddly fitting. He exudes a ferocious determination, a force of will more commonly associated with athletes or entertainers than chefs. Over the course of more than a decade, Chang has opened 13 restaurants, many of them test cases for edgy, unproven cuisines, concepts or locations. To date, he hasn’t closed a single one. Not one. In a business legendary for its failure rate, Chang is batting a thousand.

On this particular Monday, Chang has called to discuss his latest restaurant venture, Ando. In a career marked by boundary pushing and radical thinking, Ando — named after Momofuku Ando, the creator of instant ramen and namesake of Chang’s restaurant company, and Spanish for “I walk” — might be his biggest risk yet. It is, essentially, a restaurant without a restaurant. There are no tables. There are no chairs and no servers. Just a bustling kitchen and an app selling a small menu of sandwiches and salads in the $9-to-$12 range that can be picked up or delivered around a broad swath of Manhattan in 30 minutes or less.

That’s right: delivery food. Traditionally the domain of stuffed-crust pizza and strip-mall Kung Pao chicken, and more recently, the graveyard of various startups trying to disrupt the marketplace. So why does a guy with an unblemished win-loss record, five James Beard awards and a two-Michelin-star restaurant (Ko) that’s on a world’s-100-best list — a guy with his own Nike Dunks — decide to get his hands dirty with delivery?

“Simple as this,” Chang says. “Things are changing so fast in food that if you’re still using what worked for you in the past, you’re screwed.”

Read the full article on Entrepreneur here.