The last thing start-up teams should be worried about is what to eat for lunch. That's the idea behind Gastronaut, a San Francisco-based business that caters daily meals at local companies. Mirit Cohen and Nate Keller, two former chefs at Google, launched Gastronaut to emulate the tech giant's communal lunchtime ritual. "A lot of the programmers sit all day in front of their computers," says Cohen. "Coming to lunch is like coming up for air. They get to have social interaction." Plus, employees get more done, because they don't need to leave to fetch food, she says.
Gastronaut's 24 employees deliver buffet-style meals to eight businesses, most of them venture backed. The lunches cost $16 to $18 per serving and typically include a meat entrée, a vegetarian entrée, two hot sides (one starch, one vegetable), and a salad or two. Cohen and Keller work with a nutritionist to develop the menus and use only organic ingredients. "This is brain food," says Cohen.
Here's what three companies recently had for lunch:
Credit card processor with more than 150 employees
Lunches per week: Five
Dietary needs: Employees wanted more options, so Gastronaut now delivers a salad bar and sandwich bar twice a week.
Recent lunch: Salad bar with arugula, steamed quinoa, sunflower seeds, and edamame; sandwich bar with black forest ham, portobello mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, focaccia bread, and ciabatta rolls; cream of tomato soup; pork and hominy soup served with tortilla chips
Website for user-generated reviews. It has more than 800 employees.
Lunches per week: Two, for weekly meetings of 115 people
Dietary needs: There are a lot of vegetarians at Yelp. When a side dish contains meat, seafood, or dairy, Gastronaut also serves a vegan version of the dish.
Recent lunch: Tung-an chicken; peppers stuffed with rice, mushrooms, and bok choy; jasmine rice; asparagus with oyster sauce; noodle salad with spicy eggplant and cucumber
Online test-prep company with 30 employees
Lunches per week: Five
Dietary needs: Grockit's employees like meat. The company recently canceled its vegetarian entrée and requested another side dish.
Recent lunch: Braised goat; stewed ojo de cabra beans and cotija cheese; roasted sweet potatoes with balsamic vinegar and chives; blanched asparagus with goat cheese vinaigrette; farro salad with roasted peppers, spring onions, and candy-cane beets