Jay Qin wants to give Pittsburgh a new way to support restaurants and delivery drivers.
Qin is the founder and CEO of Chutoro, a “restaurant subscription” service. The soon-to-be-mobile app offers a seven-day menu from select eateries that is delivered in bulk at a set time throughout the week. It’s designed to be a more affordable alternative to popular delivery apps for both restaurants and consumers, while adding an extra source of revenue for local eateries.
Qin — a 25-year-old student at Carnegie Mellon University — came up with the idea for the app when Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf placed limitations on restaurant operations.
“Even as someone who is passionate about cooking, I get sick of cooking,” he says. “And ordering GrubHub or Uber Eats is costly and not exactly adding to a restaurant’s business.”
His plan is to start small, delivering meals to residents in apartment buildings. Currently, Qin and his team of other CMU alumni have one restaurant on board: Friendship Perk & Brew. The menu includes wraps, hoagies, and more, for a full subscription box running for $60. Because of their unique delivery model, Qin says they can charge restaurants as low as 10% commission per sale (a typical delivery app charges between 20-30%) and guarantee a week’s worth of sales to every participating restaurant.
“A good analogy would be if current models are taxis of food delivery, we are the bus [or] subway option of food delivery,” he says.
Qin knows that he’s asking the city to put their faith in an unprecedented model of food delivery — "an audacious breakthrough of trust between chefs, delivery personnel, and food lovers” — and has used the name to represent this. Chutoro is a type of tuna belly, often served as sashimi. Eating raw fish requires a strong sense of trust between chefs and diners.
“It’s cute and at the same time, [it] symbolizes trust, excellence, and hygiene.”
However, the young entrepreneur does admit that Chutoro’s model only works because of the current crisis. Operating at a normal pace, restaurants wouldn’t have the capacity to create specific, seven-day menus for one app. But because of decreased activity, Qin believes that now is the perfect time to incubate his model. He’s confident that even after the outbreak, Chutoro will remain relevant.
Chutoro’s first delivery is Tue., April 14, with a mobile app following in about two weeks. To find out more, see a full week’s menu, and learn where Churtoro is currently delivering, visit chutoro.app.