It’s just before noon on the fifth floor of F5 Networks on another sunny summer day in Seattle. A delivery driver for startup Peach has arrived, dropping off a bag of meals at the front desk for employees. Just after he leaves, another person arrives with more bags of food, but this deliveryman isn’t working for Peach — he’s with Amazon.
Yes, there is a new Lunch War brewing in Seattle. It’s a battle that involves a two-year-old Seattle-based startup, founded by three ex-Amazon engineers, who are now facing direct competition from their former employer.
GeekWire first reported on Thursday about Amazon’s new Daily Dish workplace lunch delivery service being tested in Seattle. The program, exclusive to Prime members, lets employees at specific companies order lunch specials for delivery to their offices, receiving daily menus via text message and placing their orders via Amazon’s Prime Now app.
Daily Dish is a direct competitor to Peach, a startup that employs around 40 people and raised $11 million over the past two years to build a corporate lunch delivery platform, which is exactly what Daily Dish now offers — more on this later.
We had a chance to try out Daily Dish for lunch on Thursday. Our office building is not yet listed on Amazon’s app, so I went with F5 Networks, a nearby network technology company, as my pick-up spot.
After receiving a text message at 9:30 a.m., Daily Dish customers can pick from four rotating dishes prepared by two local restaurants (one meat and one vegetarian from each place) that change daily. After ordering before 11 a.m. via the Prime Now app, lunch arrives at their office building from noon to 12:30 p.m.
The options on Thursday were a burger from Lunchbox Laboratory, or a salad from Mediterranean Express.
Amazon’s prices were actually slightly cheaper than what I found on each restaurant website. The Upstate New Yorker sells for $9.50 plus tax on Amazon; Lunchbox Laboratory lists it for $11.50. The Chicken Kabob Salad sells for $10 on Amazon; Mediterranean Kitchen lists it for $10.99.
It’s extremely simple to place an order via the Prime Now app — a few clicks on your smartphone and you’re pretty much done. The app shows short descriptions of each dish along with one photo.
I did have trouble ordering more than one dish at a time, so I had to make two separate orders: one burger from Lunchbox Laboratory and one chicken salad from Mediterranean Kitchen. You pay with your credit card through the app. No tipping is required. My total with tax came out to $10.41 and $10.95 for the burger and salad, respectively.
Once arriving at F5 Networks, I noticed a more traditional lunch option: food cart. Today it was Chick’n Fix, a local fried chicken truck with a Filipino flair that operates at F5 every Thursday. The food looked fantastic and I almost wanted to wait in line — but I already committed to Daily Dish for my mid-day meal.
Eventually, I made my way to the fifth floor reception area of an F5 Networks building (Amazon told me the order would be delivered there). The app has an Uber-like tracking feature to see where your driver is, but that didn’t seem to be working for me. By the time 11:45 a.m. came around, though, I noticed that the delivery status changed and both drivers were on their way.
The elevators opened and I immediately passed by the Peach driver. Just as I turned the corner, another driver appeared from a trusted old-fashioned lunch delivery option: pizza.
See what I mean by Lunch Wars?
At around 11:55 a.m., the two Amazon delivery drivers arrived, trotting in about a minute apart with large purple bags labeled “Amazon Restaurants.” Daily Dish is an outgrowth of the Amazon Restaurants service, which delivers meals to Prime members throughout the day in one hour or less in several cities across the U.S.
They set their bags at the front desk and I soon later received two separate text messages — one for each order — notifying me that my food had been delivered.
There were several F5 employees who also ordered from Amazon — five total orders from Mediterranean Express, and two from Lunchbox Laboratory. One guy opened up the Amazon bag and took out a plastic bag full of three boxes — I was a bit worried that he took my grub.
The meals came together in one order from each restaurant with no specific labels, other than “meat” or “vegetarian.” The idea, it seems, is to grab what dish you ordered. Since there are only two options, this should be a simple process.
Indeed it was for me, as I found my two dishes.
The burger was a bit soggy and lukewarm, which didn’t surprise me given that it came off the grill at least 20-to-30 minutes prior. However, the meat was well-seasoned and the gorgonzola spread with buffalo ketchup was a nice touch. I wish the potato chips were warm, but they still had a nice crunch and the right amount of salt.
The salad, meanwhile, seemed to be the better delivery choice, given the nature of the food. The three strips of grilled chicken had tons of flavor and the veggies were fresh. My colleague and esteemed food critic Todd Bishop called the meal “excellent.” “Yum,” Bishop added.
Overall, my experience testing Daily Dish was smooth, and besides the less-than-stellar burger, I was pretty happy with the food. If I worked at F5, I’d like the fact that Amazon was launching this new service, offering me even more lunch options to pick from.
Peach, on the other hand, probably isn’t too thrilled with the arrival of Daily Dish.
“When the 6th largest company in America directly rips off your 40 person startup’s product…,” wrote Vijay Boyapati, a senior engineer at Peach, in a Facebook post on Thursday.
Founded by former Amazon employees Nishant Singh, Denis Bellavance and Chenyu Wang, Peach launched in January 2014 with an Amazon office building as its first daily delivery location. The company delivers to more than 300 office buildings in Seattle; it also delivers in San Diego and Boston.
Singh hasn’t yet responded to multiple messages seeking comment about Daily Dish.
The Daily Dish model, at least to the consumer, is more-or-less identical to Peach. In fact, the “how it works” instructions on the Daily Dish webpage are very similar to what Peach has on its website. Here’s what Amazon shows:
And here’s what Peach shows:
While Peach previously competed against other food delivery companies like Caviar, Postmates, and Bitesquad, there weren’t any others in Seattle focused specifically on providing lunch to office workers — until now.
Will Peach lose customers to Amazon, a corporate giant with a robust delivery network that can afford to charge lower rates? That could happen in Seattle. But it’s beyond the Emerald City where this new battle will really heat up.
Peach is in three cities: Seattle, San Diego, and Boston. There are plans to launch in other places like Chicago, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Amazon, meanwhile, operates its one-hour restaurant delivery service in more than 10 cities including Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Dallas, and others. The company’s plan is to reportedly launch restaurant delivery in each city where its Prime Now service is available.
If Amazon finds a successful model for Daily Dish in Seattle, it wouldn’t be far-fetched for the company to do the same in many other cities.
It’s unclear if Amazon wants to own the lunchtime delivery vertical, but Daily Dish adds yet another perk for Prime members who pay $99 per year for free two-day shipping, access to streaming video and music content, cloud storage, and more.
However, there can be winners in this space. Whether it’s scrappy startups like Peach or tech giants like Amazon or Uber — which is also investing in food delivery — will largely be decided by hungry customers who decide on the most convenient, cheapest, and best-tasting service.