What happened to Good Uncle?

GU founders in kitchen bw
Photo courtesy of Good Uncle. /THE REVIEW
Pictured above: Good Uncle CEO Wiley Cerilli (left).

BY Staff Reporter

Many students have been wondering what happened to Good Uncle, the food service that brought New York City restaurant recipes and ingredients to college campuses.

In 2017, Good Uncle arrived onto the university’s campus. The company consisted of a standalone kitchen and food trucks that brought various meals and snacks to drop-off points around campus. This distribution system created a unique space for Good Uncle in the university’s food industry.

Good Uncle recently shut down because the company was not reaching the goals that the CEO originally wanted, causing a revamp in the business model.

“They closed down because they wanted to restructure everything from the way they package the food to all of the equipment in the vans,” Ethan Russo, a Good Uncle employee and a senior hotel business management major, said. “In order to do this, they had to take a step back to move forward,”

Senior Syracuse University student and Good Uncle brand ambassador, Samantha Benvegna, expanded on the new business model that the company is trying to implement.

According to Benvegna, Good Uncle has strayed from the idea of having one delivery kitchen every college campus and instead are only working out of one central location, which is located in Delaware.

The food is prepared for delivery in the Delaware location and then brought to the other four campuses: Lehigh University, University of Maryland, Colgate University and Syracuse University. Once a student orders a dish, through the app, the driver will then prepare the food and deliver to the drop off location.

“Having one kitchen on every college campus required a lot of initial investment,” Benvegna said. “The new model that relies on one main kitchen, on only Delaware’s campus, and newer delivery vehicles that have built in refrigerators and heating systems, allow Good Uncle to efficiently and easily launch on new campuses.”

Wiley Cerilli, Good Uncle’s CEO, gave a deeper look into why he felt the company needed this new business model and how it will work. Cerilli explained that the company became something different from what he had originally envisioned and that in order to revitalize their delivery service lots of changes would have to be made.

Cerilli and his partner originally wanted to create a scalable technology business. Even though Good Uncle’s was booming, they found themselves with a restaurant business that involved some technology. In order to quickly reach a large market like they initially wanted, it would take a huge amount of money invested over a long period of time.

“Although we had a good business, it wasn’t an exciting one that we really wanted to build,” Cerilli said.

The biggest restriction for Good Uncle’s expansion was was the time and money required to build a kitchen on each respective college campus.

The food is chilled, loaded on trucks, and then driven to a college campus. When the truck pulls up to your specified drop off point, the food is hot and ready.

“This enabled us to close all of our kitchens except for Delaware, roll out a whole new menu where the food was consistent from Delaware to Syracuse to Lehigh to Colgate, so we opened up in some new markets, and now our goal is to be the fastest growing restaurant group in the country by 2020,” Cerilli said.

Cerilli decided to consolidate all of the kitchens into only one, in Delaware, because of its central location, and hired Michelin star chefs to work there.

Having this one main kitchen in Delaware enables Good Uncle to expand to new markets as far as Alabama and Maine. This saving in cost helps to shape the scalable business model Cerilli and his partner originally wanted.

In efforts to make their meals the best they can be, Good Uncle is using new ovens that cook the food based on its density. This system allows the food to be perfectly cooked for delivery.

The only downside of using the new ovens is that it caused them to sever ties with all the restaurants they had partnerships with. Customers can say goodbye to their beloved Sticky’s Fingers Joint chicken tenders and Joe’s pizza in New York City. Cerilli confirmed that after the first year of just serving Good Uncle meals they will try to start utilizing the partnerships again, after the restaurants have had time to adapt their recipes to the new cooking system.

The new business model and menu have already rolled out at Syracuse University. Good Uncle has gotten feedback of better food ratings and faster delivery speeds by about 15 minutes.

Cerilli hopes the new model will roll out in Delaware in September of 2019.

“Delivery is faster, food is better, it’s more consistent,” Cerilli said.

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