Founded by Peter Butler and James Terry during the first British lockdown, Dishpatch is a clever finish-at-home meal delivery service currently serving all of the U.K. Since launch, they’ve delivered more than 75,000 beautifully packed boxes from restaurants including Angela Hartnett’s Cafe Murano and St John. Just this year, they’ve raised an additional £10 million to add more restaurant partners and grow the service further.
You describe your platform as “the antithesis of Deliveroo.” What does that mean and why the strident differentiation?
James Terry: Deliveroo is all about speed and convenience, often at the expense of quality. Dishpatch is all about quality. We carefully curate our restaurant and chef partners, based on the quality and authenticity of their offering. On Dishpatch, no two restaurants or chefs are the same.
How did you get the idea for the business to begin with, and how did you get it off the ground?
Peter Butler: We were never really planning to start Dishpatch! At the start of the pandemic in 2020, every restaurant in the UK was forced to close. My background is in the restaurant industry, and a lot of people I knew were looking for new ways to get their food into customer’s homes. We started helping a good chef friend of mine (Farokh Talati, who runs an amazing Parsi supper club) create meal kits, handling all of the packaging and logistics, so he could concentrate on the food. One chef quickly became two, three, four etc. as word spread around the industry. We grew from there and haven’t looked back!
You talk a lot about how your service complements restaurants as opposed to competing with them. Tell me about the business model, and how you support the country’s leading restaurants. JT: As we offer nationwide delivery, we deliver to people who would love to visit the restaurants we work with, but can’t easily get there. This might be people who live rurally (75% of our products are sold out of London), or, for example, young families who can’t easily leave the house, or are looking for something to make meals easier. This is (by definition!) an untapped market for restaurants.
You raised £10M in your most recent fundraising round—what has that investment enabled you to do? PB: Firstly, the investment has allowed us to invest much more heavily into our logistics. We’re about to open a new HQ, which has been 12 months in planning, and will be ten times the size of our current warehouse. This means we can work with more restaurants, offer more menus, and deliver on more days of the week (most of our products are delivered on Fridays right now). Secondly, we’ve been investing a lot more heavily in marketing. Restaurant meal kits are a new category for at-home dining, and we’re spreading the word as quickly as possible.
What is Spotlight? Who are some of the chefs involved and how do you find them? JT: Spotlight is a limited-edition series of menus with up-and-coming chefs who don’t yet have a permanent restaurant. The restaurant industry is full of extremely talented and creative chefs, but not everyone has a restaurant (yet!). We wanted to give some of these individuals a platform to serve their food to more people, especially those who don’t live near their supper club or pop-up.
With restaurants back open and travel resuming—what does that mean for the delivery and meal kit business? Will you tweak your offering or business model over the coming months as a result? PB: Dishpatch has always been about increasing access to great chefs and restaurants, especially for those people who don’t live near restaurants or can’t easily get out and about. This continues to be our focus and is something that hasn’t changed.
What is the biggest challenge you face in the year ahead? PB: Spreading the word! Restaurant meal kits are still a very new category within at-home eating. Most people either haven’t heard of restaurant meal kits, or still haven’t tried one. Our focus is on promoting our offering as much as possible and getting as many new people to try the product—because we know they will love it!
You work with established names, up-and-comers, and neighbourhood treasures, what makes a restaurant the right fit for Dishpatch? JT: It’s all about the quality of the food! We love working with restaurants that are obsessive about the quality of the food they create (from perfecting their recipes, to using the best ingredients, to developing amazing cooking techniques). We also look for authenticity in our partners, meaning they create delicious food that is unique to them.
All of your packaging is entirely compostable or recyclable. Why was that important to you? Where do you source it? PB: Sustainability is one of the most important topics for our and all future generations. As a food business, we have an obligation to do everything we can to minimise the impact we have on the environment. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but we’ve carefully sourced recyclable materials for our packaging where possible. We’re currently working with packaging experts to do even better.
Who designs the menus and writes the recipes and how often do restaurants change their menu offering? JT: Each partner changes their menu every two-three months. This allows us to keep things fresh and interesting, but also aligns with the seasons, which is really important for great food. All of the menus and recipes are from the restaurants, but we help them to figure out what will travel well and work successfully in meal-kit format. It’s a real joint effort!
How do you describe what you do to someone at a dinner party? Restaurant meals from chefs such as Ottolenghi, Michel Roux Jr., and Angela Hartnett, delivered nationwide.
What makes for the perfect at-home meal? And how do you get the balance right of how much should be left to be prepared at-home by the customer versus readymade? PB: The perfect at-home meal is something that you absolutely love to eat, but would be really hard for you to cook yourself at home. Whether that’s because we’ve made it using hard to source ingredients, or complex recipes and cooking techniques (for example 12-hour braised beef, or complex and spicy curries). Everything arrives fully pre-prepared, and all the customer has to do is reheat, garnish and enjoy. It’s kind of like a very very good ready meal.