Food & Drink

What’s a ClusterTruck? A new food-delivery idea is coming to Charlotte (and you can get an early taste)

ClusterTruck uses a central kitchen, like this one in Bloomington, Ind., to cook their own food for delivery.
ClusterTruck uses a central kitchen, like this one in Bloomington, Ind., to cook their own food for delivery. Courtesy of ClusterTruck.com

Food delivery sounds like a great idea: You put in an order, they go to a restaurant, pick up your food and drop it off. But then it arrives cold, soggy and not exactly great.

ClusterTruck is a different idea: They have their own kitchen and their own drivers, so your food has a better chance of showing up fresh and warm. And while it doesn’t actually have food trucks (the name is proverbial), it does have a menu based on the variety you’d find at a food truck rally without having to fight for a spot to sit and eat.

The company, based in Indianapolis, is building a central kitchen in Charlotte and expects to open in March. You can download an app for ordering, or order online when it opens.

Founder Chris Baggott came from a technology background and decided to apply that to food, using apps for the customer, the kitchen and the driver to streamline the process, according to spokesperson Gwen Ragno.

“We kind of built the whole thing to streamline the inefficiencies and frustrations in the third-party delivery scene. Our customers know what they’re going to get and know it’s going to arrive fresh.”

ClusterTruck’s menu is set up like a food truck rally, where you can choose from different kinds of food. The menu is broken down into sections, like Easy Breakfast (yes, you can get a breakfast burrito and avocado toast delivered to your home or office), burgers, pizzas, pan Asian and baked macaroni and cheese variations. There are even vegan/vegetarian and gluten-free sections.

The company started in Indianapolis and branched out to Columbus, Ohio. The menu in Columbus is the one that Charlotte will get at first, although they also will make changes based on what people here order. For instance, in Columbus, one of the popular items is the Johnny Marzetti (a Midwestern dish with macaroni noodles, marinara sauce, ground beef and cheese). If that doesn’t fly here, they’ll change it.

The Charlotte delivery kitchen is being built inside the I-277 loop near Church and Liddell Streets, so the delivery zone will focus on uptown and the areas around it. While the exact delivery area hasn’t been set, Ragno says they typically focus on the area within eight minutes of the kitchen, to keep deliveries fresher.

There’s no dining room or pickup space; the central kitchen is only for cooking and sending out orders. Drivers get to keep all of their tips, and there’s no minimum order or service charge.

Ragno says the average order is usually $10. The Columbus menu ranges from $6.50 to $13. Since different people can order whatever they’re craving, Ragno says it’s turning out to be popular with offices.

One more thing: If you’re interested in an early taste (and maybe some free food), you can apply to be a beta tester. If you’re accepted, you get to use it a few days before they open in exchange for free food and discounts for sharing feedback.

Kathleen Purvis: 704-358-5236, @kathleenpurvis

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