Urban Plates makes social distancing easy with app
Story By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski | photo courtesy URBAN PLATES
Urban Plates considers itself to be innovative with the forethought to serve creative dishes that please the palate. So, when the staff was developing an app in early 2020 to allow for ordering at the table, it had no idea what would come.
“We were in the process of developing an app when COVID hit last year,” says Steve Greer, Urban Plates’ chief marketing officer.
“We had to suddenly pivot when the pandemic happened. We designed the app with different needs of the guests in mind, and in reaction to the pandemic as well.”
The Urban Plates app was launched in the fall, but the new functionality was unveiled once dining rooms started to open in March. Prior to the lifting of restrictions, ordering at a table wasn’t a priority.
Available on IOS and Android devices, the Urban Plates app gives guests a variety of ways to order and skip the line. When guest arrive at the restaurant for dine-in, they can sit at a sanitized table of their choice (indoor or outdoor) and use the Urban Plates app to order and pay for their meal.
The app is linked to its respective table and tells the Urban Plates’ team where the guests are seated, so they know where to deliver the food when ready. Diners remain seated at their table where their food will be delivered by an Urban Plates team member.
“Now, as guests are returning, there are people who don’t want to wait in line,” Greer says. “They don’t want to be close to other people, or they don’t want the bother of ordering from the register. In essence, the app acts as your server.”
Staff will still take in-person orders, but Urban Plates encourages guests to use the app for ordering dine-in, takeout and delivery.
“They still love all the things they love about Urban Plates,” Greer says. “How they were going to access food materially shifted. We wanted to help guests navigate and get food from us on their terms.”
The Urban Plates’ app also allows guests to sort the menu by dietary preference and/or dietary restrictions, allowing guests to easily toggle between common dietary preferences, such as keto or paleo, as well as eliminate menu items with common allergens, such as nuts, gluten and soy.
“Urban Plates is dedicated to making our food safety and accommodating our guests however we can. Our new, innovative service model is a testament to that,” says Urban Plates co-founder and CEO Saad Nadhir.
“As a company, we are deeply mindful of the programs we introduce to our guests. Urban Plates is creating a safer experience for guests and staff, while making our wholesome, affordable cuisine even more accessible, which is our part of our core mission.”
Nadhir founded Urban Plates in 2011 with a single restaurant in Del Mar. The chef-driven restaurant has since expanded to San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Northern California and Washington, D.C.
The Playa Vista location sits at 12746-3 Jefferson Boulevard.
The Encinitas-based restaurants have an expansive menu of items made fresh in-house, from scratch, every day. Chefs feature clean, organic ingredients when possible.
Recipes feature exclusively GMO-, antibiotic-, and hormone-free, grass-fed and finished steak; line-caught tuna; sustainably sourced seafood; and humanely raised and sourced, cage-free, hormone-free chicken.
The group works exclusively with farmers and ranchers who meet its ethical and environmental standards. With menus that include gluten-free, plant-based, dairy-free, pescatarian, low-carb or any combination of that.
Greer says Urban Plates’ signature dish is hard to nail. He enjoys the steak. Recently, dishes were added like sustainable salmon, cobb salad and the chicken club sandwich with Duroc bacon.
“It’s such a great sandwich,” he says about the chicken club. “Really, the thing is, a lot of people don’t realize we make everything from scratch, except the bread.
“We make our own mayo. That’s how serious we are about scratch cooking. The food tastes better when it’s made from scratch, and when it’s offered at a price that won’t break the bank.”
Greeg explains the Urban Plates’ staff, cooks, servers and hosts want to guests to enjoy craveable, wholesome food that’s accessible to everyone. “There’s a lot of really healthy food out there that people aren’t that wild about. The food has to taste great.
“If you can make it wholesome and clean, it’s a win-win for everybody.”
Urban Plates 12746-3 Jefferson Boulevard, Playa Vista 424-256-7274, urbanplates.com