Before entering the restaurant industry five years ago, Ricky Scott was a general contractor. One day, he drove by a vacant storefront and decided—“a spontaneous decision”—to open a cafe. That business faced many of the usual challenges of a new foodservice concept, but instead of shutting down, Scott simply pivoted.
“The coffees and pastries and things weren’t really doing that well, so we added some real food,” he says. “And when that did a little better, we switched to burgers, which really took off.” Ricky tested burgers through a delivery-only virtual restaurant concept. It performed so well, he evolved his entire business to focus on burgers.
Today, Gerizim Burger Factory has two locations in Brooklyn and Queens and Scott attributes much of their success to a partnership with Uber Eats. The third-party delivery service gave them the tools and local demand data needed to test new menu items, in this case burgers, that might perform better in the delivery zone. We sat down with him to discuss the evolution of his business and how the third-party delivery service has helped it grow.
You weren’t always in the restaurant business. What are some of the challenges you faced when you first opened your cafe?
When I first got the location, I wasn’t quite clear what I wanted to do with the space. So I started looking into what might be successful and trying to work toward that.
But it was very, very hard. We had cookies and we had wraps, but none of it was working. So we decided to change over the entire menu. At the time, we were partnered with a different delivery service, and it literally was not doing anything for us. We had to do all of our own marketing to get people in the door and it was really challenging to create brand awareness and drive traffic.
How has your experience with Uber Eats helped you with your new brand, the Burger Factory?
If it wasn’t for our Uber Eats, I don’t think we’d still be in business. It’s because of our partnership with them that we were able to recently launch a second location in Queens and that we’re able to pay our bills.
I love the marketing products that they provide to me, as an operator. That has been really useful and consistently beneficial to us.
What recommendations do you have for other operators who might be looking to partner with a third-party delivery service?
Ensuring food quality is important. The best way to do that is to make sure you have the right packaging. The containers you use for food ordered in-house oftentimes don’t travel well, because the food might sweat or sauces might slide around and make buns, for example, soggy. Or if you’re serving soup, you obviously don’t want it to leak. So it’s critical to make sure you’ve got the right packaging for delivery and not try to use the same products across the board.
Why do you think it’s so critical for restaurants to provide delivery options for their customers?
It’s so convenient for customers. Especially during the winter time—which in New York, of course is a big deal for us—we get a lot of delivery traffic because people don’t want to go outside. They can look on the app, find our menu, and order directly, and that’s helpful for everyone.
When you get the chance to order delivery, what’s your go-to meal?
My wife and I love to order in Thai food. But she usually takes care of that.