A Final Goodbye & Thank You!

Dear Bento’ers,

As of Friday December 9th, Bento has closed down our kitchen, and is no longer open for business. We had hoped to find a new home and a new owner, but we were unable to do so.

Vincent and I wanted to send one final thank you for being a Bento customer. It was truly an honor to have served you a meal (or multiple meals!) – thank you for being with us! We have more information below regarding what happened during the last few months that led to our closure.

But first, we wanted to take a moment to recommend a few amazing food options. All of these I have personally tried and can truly vouch for.

Sun Basket – Proudly using the best organic & non-GMO ingredients from the country’s best farms.  Choose any three recipes each week from Chef Curated, Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegetarian, and Breakfast options!
Use code BENTO for three free meals off your first box!
Order Now: http://www.sunbasket.com

Thistle – Kick start the new year with nutritionally designed, plant based meals – delivered fresh and fully prepared each week. Use code BENTO for up to $50 off your first order!
Order now: http://thistle.co

Mealmade – Delivering high quality, made-to-order, healthy meals on-demand to all of San Francisco, and they’re really good. All of their dishes are gluten/grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and they never use unhealthy oils.
Order for lunch or dinner and get 20% off with code BENTO (https://www.mealmade.com).

As always, in the spirit of our full transparency: Each company has offered Bento a small bonus if you choose to sign up for these services.

Thank you again!
Jason Demant & Vincent Cardillo (Bento cofounders)

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And now some more info on why we shut down…

To give context it will be helpful to first read why we shut down on-demand and then why we shut down our direct sales app.

Looking back with hindsight, shutting down our direct to consumer sales channel (our app) was an excellent decision.

Over the last few months we have seen incredible growth. Going from serving only 100 meals per day in May, to 700 meals per day in December. This was incredible growth in such a short time. We worked with EAT Club, Zesty, Caviar Fastbite, and many others to serve these meals with great success.

With this growth, we began to hit profitability as well. In October and November, our business hit full net profitability.

Despite these successes, there were a few major issues with the business:

  1. Low gross margin dollars — We were now wholesaling our meals which meant that we were selling meals for much less. Despite the lower sales price we were still making a healthy margin on each meal, however, the total margin dollars were low. In order to finance research & development and a more robust management team, we needed to sell a LOT more meals, which was becoming increasingly difficult.
  2. Growing further was going to be challenging — We were starting to run into major issues around our kitchen size, the timing of meals, and other logistical challenges.
  3. Personal financial challenges — While the business was profitable, I was unable to pay myself a sustainable salary.

During the last few weeks, we worked hard to find a solution other than shutting down. There were several promising discussions to sell Bento to a new owner, but it is with great sadness that I say that despite my hardest efforts, none of those conversations came to fruition.

Again, I wanted to thank you for being a Bento customer and taking the time to read this far!

As always, if you have questions or comments please write to me at jason@bentonow.com.

Big Changes with Bento: Part II

Dear Bento’ers,

After much debate we have decided to turn off our app and focus on other ways to get Bento to you.

Our last day of taking orders through the app will be today, Friday May 27th. You can find more information on the decision below.

While this is sad news, we are excited to say that there are more ways than ever to get Bento delivered to you.

If you’re looking for Bento with the fastest delivery time, check us out on Fastbite by Caviar.

We also have our sushi menu available every day for lunch on Caviar, Postmates and GrubHub.

If you’re at an office that brings lunch in, check out EAT Club, where you can find our meals as well.

And finally, we’ll still be available for family-style catering. Hit reply or fill out this form for more information.

As always, thank you for being a Bento customer. If you have questions or comments, say hello@bentonow.com.

Jason Demant & Vincent Cardillo (Bento cofounders)

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Alright, here’s a bit more on the decision to turn off our app.

If you’ve been with us for a while, this email probably feels like deja vu. We paused our on-demand service in a similar fashion 3 months ago. If you haven’t read that blog, I recommend reading it first.

Launching order ahead was exciting. Things took off faster than we forecasted. There was no more waste coming back to the kitchen every day (hooray!) and our logistics were more efficient than ever. (Surprisingly though, not as efficient as we forecasted.)

A few weeks ago, orders took a dip. It was actually really sudden and we hoped it was a one-time thing. To our surprise it wasn’t and it’s actually gotten worse since.

To this day we don’t know why things changed and that’s a big part of the problem. Our team has shrunk in size over the past few months and we no longer have the resources to give our direct app business the focus it needs.

So, we’re doubling down on what’s working. We’ve been able to work with amazing partners over the past few months. These partners appreciate the product we provide. And the good news is, we continue our mission to serve you a healthy, delicious and sustainably sourced meal.

It’s been quite a journey the past 15 months, but we think we’re just getting started.

As always, it’s an honor to have you as a Bento customer. Thank you for reading and Bento on!

PS – We had the privilege of working with the folks at Startup Podcast the past few months. For a further look inside our business check out our episode.

Big Changes With Bento

Dear Bento’ers,

A few weeks ago we introduced the ability for you to place and schedule orders ahead of time. We did this to give a more predictable delivery experience, as well as make Bento a more sustainable business. Here is the second part of the story.

We have decided to put a pause on our on-demand business, as well as solely offer lunch service. This decision was not an easy one to make, and we have included more details below. Our last day of on-demand service will be today, Friday, February 26th.

We know that ordering in advance does not jive with everyone’s schedule, so we’re also excited to announce that we’ve expanded our partnership with our good friends at Caviar! If you’re still looking for Bento on-demand for both lunch and dinner, check out Fastbite by Caviar and order us there. (PS – Use promo code EATFAST and get $3 off!)

As always, thank you for being a Bento customer. If you have questions or comments, please say hello@bentonow.com.

Jason Demant & Vincent Cardillo (Bento cofounders)

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Still want to know more about why we closed on-demand? Okay…here’s more.

We started Bento to give customers the best meal experience possible. Order your exact meal when you’re hungry, receive it minutes later, and it’s ready to eat. Your response was overwhelming. We grew… really fast.

Unfortunately that growth came at a cost. Our logistics were inefficient and made our true delivery cost higher than we’d like to admit. And on top of that, to facilitate speedy delivery, there was always extra food at the end of the night we didn’t end up selling. We tried several things, and forecasting our on-demand business was nearly impossible.

All of these made the business unsustainable. During the second half of 2015 we worked hard to improve these aspects, and made progress. But by December, we realized we still hadn’t made enough progress, and it was then that we decided it was time to shift.

With placing an order in advance, you can still order a healthy, sustainably sourced meal, with the exact sides you want. But you’ll need to order lunch by 10am. 

We hope to re-introduce on-demand in the future. But for now, we think we’ve found a sustainable way to continue serving you Bento.

Thank you for being a Bento customer, and Bento On!