In 2006, young restaurateur Taki Kastanis opened upscale brunch restaurant Yolk in Chicago — capitalizing on the rising popularity of the in-between meal. Today, Yolk has 16 dine-in locations: nine in Chicago, three in Indianapolis, two in Dallas, one in Fort Worth, and one in Boca Raton — all of which are DoorDash partners, as delivery accounts for 15% of their total business. In response to COVID-19, Yolk also opened two delivery-only virtual kitchens in Chicago suburbs.
"We had customers come from the suburbs all the time to dine with us, and now suddenly they’re not coming anymore," says Gianluca Pesce, Director of Marketing & Communications at Yolk. "We opened up these kitchens so we could still provide those areas with the food we’re known for."
Yolk turned to delivery to stay ahead of customer trends. "All restaurants are looking at a 20% decrease in in-house sales because consumers want their food delivered," says Pesce. "Adapting to the shift and recouping that 20% is the main challenge for restaurants everywhere right now."
Facing pressure to meet the demand for delivery across their locations—and looking for the right partner to tackle the challenge with them—Yolk landed on DoorDash to officially make on-demand delivery a part of their business model. "We really wanted to partner with a national third-party platform that could deliver across all of our markets at the same time," says Pesce.
Our willingness to take advantage of DoorDash’s marketing tools contributes to our growth.
Yolk needed a third-party delivery platform that offered a true partnership. "Other platforms were knocking on our door, but they didn’t want to create a relationship," says Pesce. "They just wanted a high percentage." DoorDash partners locally with Yolk, and a Strategic Partner Manager handles add-on products and provides the personal attention they sought.
As part of their COVID-19 relief response, DoorDash is offering new customers a month with 0% commission rates, which Yolk received for their new delivery-only kitchens. "DoorDash wants to work with us and help resolve any issues," says Pesce. "Our Strategic Partner Manager really knows our brand—I even joke that he works for Yolk."
Since joining DoorDash and opening new locations, Yolk has seen year over year growth of 486%. The expanded partnership includes DoorDash for Work and DashPass, driving a 20% increase in DoorDash sales. Yolk also uses DoorDash marketing features like Try Me Free and Zero Dollar Delivery, "Our willingness to take advantage of these marketing tools contributes to our growth," says Pesce.
As businesses reopen, restaurant owners are thinking about consumer behavior in the post-COVID-19 world. "We’ve seen the delivery and takeout business triple," says Pesce. "While that may go down as things normalize, I’m hoping to retain some of that business. I think ordering from home will be a new normal."