ClusterTruck Expands to the Northside
Writer / Ryan Kennedy Photography Provided
Around 2014 Chris Baggott, co-founder and CEO of ClusterTruck, assessed the prepared-food delivery market and did not like what he saw.
“It all just seemed very dysfunctional to me,” he says. “There are a lot of moving parts. Nobody was really happy with it. Customer reviews were terrible for the third-party deliveries. The restaurants complained about the fees that they were being charged. The drivers can’t get enough work. You have one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, which is prepared-food delivery, and nobody is doing it right.”
Baggott, who co-founded ExactTarget and Compendium, decided to use his software background to solve these problems, and created ClusterTruck.
“We are a technology-driven, delivery-only restaurant,” Baggott says. “We don’t have a front-of-house, and there are no tables and chairs. People order online and we deliver for free.”
Whereas popular delivery services like Grubhub and DoorDash deliver food from restaurants to customers, ClusterTruck is both the restaurant and the delivery service, cutting out the middleman.
The ClusterTruck concept is aimed at streamlining the process of delivering food from kitchen to customer as efficiently as possible.
“We realized to do this successfully we would have to be vertically integrated, and would have to use software algorithms to coordinate the drivers with the cooking of the food and with the proximity of the customer,” Baggott says. “When an order comes into our system, we know where you are. We know where all of the drivers are at any given moment, and we know everything that’s going on in the kitchen.”
The entire system is based around what Baggott calls resource-aware scheduling.
“Let’s say you and I are going to eat together, and you’re going to have pad thai that takes seven minutes and I’m going to have a cheeseburger that takes three minutes,” Baggott says. “Our system will say, ‘Let’s start the pad thai, then four minutes into the cook of the pad thai we’re going to tell the cheeseburger to start cooking,’”
While this is all happening, ClusterTruck’s system contacts a driver who will arrive to pick up the meal the moment it’s ready.
Baggott says even if a customer sees a lengthy delivery time when they place an order, the food will never be more than seven minutes old when it arrives at the destination.
“We’re going to cook that food and it’s not going to sit, whereas if you’re using a third party and you saw 55 minutes, basically that means your food is 55 minutes old, right?” he says. “That’s the big difference. When you look at our reviews online, we get all four stars because the food was hot.”
While ClusterTruck has been doing business in Indianapolis for almost five years, Baggott recently opened kitchens in Fishers and Carmel.
“Our Indianapolis ClusterTruck is the busiest kitchen in the world,” he says. “We do hundreds of thousands of orders there. A lot of our customers who work downtown live in Fishers and Carmel, too. Plus, there’s a big tech community and it’s just a favorable environment. The primary reason was, that’s where our customers from downtown happen to live.”
Kroger partnered with ClusterTruck to launch the first of what Baggott calls ghost kitchens.
“Kroger has 2,800 boxes that have kitchens already in them,” he says. “Those kitchens are pretty much underutilized, so how can we move our system into existing kitchens? They’ve become a very eager partner to get ClusterTruck kitchens installed inside their stores.”
The Fishers location is the prototype for a national rollout of ghost kitchens.
Baggott says ClusterTruck will continue to partner with Kroger across the country, and he is also always looking for other partners. The COVID-19 pandemic has left restaurants with excess capacity that ClusterTruck can expand into. ClusterTruck requires approximately 1,200 square feet for production of the items on its menu.
“The idea is we can really go anywhere,” Baggott says.
ClusterTruck is located at 12195 N Meridian St in Carmel and 9799 East 116th Street in Fishers. For more information, visit clustertruck.com or download the ClusterTruck smartphone application.
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Something for everyone
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We love this place! It’s our go-to for Board Meetings, their menu variety allows everyone to find something they want, and they deliver reasonably fast.