Cheetah restaurant supply app pivots like everyone else – J.

Food coverage is supported by a generous donation from Susan and Moses Libitzky.

When Na’ama Moran’s company launched an app for restaurants that streamlines the ordering and delivery of wholesale supplies, it was in 2015 – long before anyone knew what was to come by 2020. The goal, Moran said, is and always has been “to help restaurants thrive.”

Then came the novel coronavirus, which she calls “the worst, most cataclysmic thing to happen in restaurant history.”

With many restaurants relying on government money and those that deliver seeing 20-30% of their revenue go to third-party services, most places are barely getting by, she said.

Na’ama Moran

“Most of our independent restaurants are owned by real hustlers and either owned or run by immigrants,” she said. “They provide something that enriches our lives as a community. I dread the day when all we have is Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Cheesecake Factory.

Moran is CEO and co-founder of Cheetah, which distributes wholesale supplies to independent restaurants, cafes, caterers and food trucks in the Bay Area, according to its website. While its app was created to centralize and simplify the supply chain, Cheetah’s mission now includes a more serious imperative: to help restaurants survive the pandemic.

To draw more attention to the personal plight of Bay Area chiefs, Cheetah produced a series of short documentaries titled “Too Small to Fail” featuring testimonies from local chiefs about how devastating this time was for their restaurants and industry.

Moran, 41, grew up in a farming community in Kfar Monash, Israel, a moshav of about 75 families near Netanya. His father inherited the family farm, where he grew citrus fruits and pecans. He also raised turkeys, then owned and operated a bakery.

At an early age, Moran watched his father deal with the stresses of owning a small business; he died of a heart attack at age 52. “I’m sure some of that can be attributed to all the stress he’s had in his life,” she said.

In his twenties, Moran lived for a time in Italy doing a “agritourismor stay on the farm, then began her studies at Tel Aviv University, before transferring to Cornell University. In 2007, she moved to Silicon Valley and helped found several startups before co-founding Cheetah. She lives with her partner and daughter in San Francisco, where the company is based.

The app was developed by a team representing the food industry, supply chain experts, engineers and others, who came up with a system that gave busy chefs a central place to order their daily ingredients, view their inventory and track their deliveries.

cars line up near big delivery trucks that say Cheetah on them
Cheetah’s contactless pickup from refrigerated trucks.

Before, “there wasn’t one place where they could look up inventory and see prices. Everything was very analog. You would see bosses in the middle of a shift or later at night, having to call each of their vendors, and they would text or fax,” Moran said.

The company was born out of “my interest in small business owners and what they mean for the economy and what they mean for diversity and the importance of the food supply chain,” he said. she declared.

Since its inception, Cheetah has become the fifth-largest food distributor in the Bay Area, Moran said, delivering supplies to 10% of area restaurants. It had recently started operating in several other cities, “and then the sky fell,” she said. “Overnight, we lost over 80% of our sales.”

With so many perishables in stock, the Cheetah team quickly turned to the consumer market, where people were suddenly buying in panic and avoiding the big supermarkets. Many customers like to buy in bulk, pick up their orders at designated sites from refrigerated trucks, and share the bounty with other family members or cooperative households. Cheetah had record months in March and April.

As the company has seen steady growth on the consumer side, Cheetah has also partnered with local restaurants to sell their packaged and prepared meals on the platform.

Before Covid, city residents ate at least one meal a day on average across the country. Restaurant sales in the United States were $900 billion a year, while grocery store sales were $700 billion, according to Moran.

While no one can predict the future, she said, at least in the short term, the restaurant industry will have to continue to find creative ways to weather the storm. “It can’t just be about delivering chicken from point A to point B at the best possible price,” Moran said. “To survive, restaurants will have to evolve.”

She sees her business playing a role in “giving restaurants new ideas to reinvent themselves”, adding: “Our mission has never been more urgent.”

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