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We're Open Indy: ClusterTruck is well ahead of the curve

This Indy-based delivery-only restaurant has been social distancing from day one.
ClusterTruck 8.jpg
Posted at 2:01 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-23 11:57:41-04

In a time when we can't all gather around a table, we can still come together as a community. We're Open Indy is a partnership between WRTV and our local restaurants and businesses with one goal: getting them through this tough time. Every day, we will help shine a light on the businesses that make up our community by telling their stories and rallying around those who are keeping the grills going, the hospitals running, and the businesses operating.

INDIANAPOLIS — Most companies have been forced to rethink their approach when it comes to serving their guests, as public restrictions seem to tighten daily due to the coronavirus.

Many local restaurants are getting creative to stay ahead of the curve, but one Indianapolis-based business was well in front of it.

The tech-savvy crew at ClusterTruck started a delivery-only restaurant in 2016, that cooks and dispatches meals from a centralized kitchen — eliminating the need for a dining room.

Whereas most restaurants and bars gained the majority of their revenue from the dine-in experience, almost all of ClusterTruck's income comes from delivery. A concept that many small businesses in Indiana had to get more accustomed to on March 16 after Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced that bars and restaurants would be ordered to close to in-person patrons.

Chris Baggott, ClusterTruck's co-founder and CEO, is not rejoicing in how well this could be for his on-demand business model like most people would assume, however. He's thinking about his employees and the future of our economy.

"This is all so new still, and the first thing we need to do is obviously make sure our employees are taken care of, and our drivers are taken care of. We need to sort of let this play out," Baggott said.

"How do you keep people working, and money in pockets, when a lot of things are shutting down?" Baggott asked.

ClusterTruck released numbers on Tuesday, stating in a release to customers that 60% of their sales happen during lunch to workplaces, 40% percent comes from group orders and 40% of new customers come from those group orders.

"We're looking at making things more affordable," Baggott said. "I'm very worried, and as I'm sure everyone is. Overall, people are going to have less money."

Clustertruck's team has talked about partnering with hospitals and churches, but right now, it's about making sure they can keep every member of their team employed. That's just over 100 people.

During these troubling times, being able to keep service workers on the payroll seems to be a luxury.

"Hopefully, we can be a job creator in this. There are a lot of unemployed folks that work in kitchens ... and (hopefully) we can pick up the slack and add more people to our team," Baggott said. "Those are the biggest impacts we could make."

Baggott says the he is seeing a lot more civility frmo the community and he hopes that people can contine to be courteous and patient.

"Take care of local businesses, be nice to one another and lets buckle down and get through this," Baggott said.

Monday - Thursday: 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Friday: 8 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.

In taking precautions against the spread of COVID-19, many restaurants had to quickly put in place a more sanitary plan, when making sure food orders are in as few hands as possible.

Another problem for most other restaurants right now, that ClusterTruck does not.

ClusterTruck's business model only has room for cooks to be in the kitchen, and delivery drivers to stay in the confines of their vehicles. Even when delivering to your home, consumers have always had to meet the drivers curbside.

As always, ClusterTruck does not charge customers service or delivery fees.

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