'Shared restaurant' offers new dining solution
The city's first "shared restaurant" has started trial operation in Huangpu District, providing a new kind of flexible dining solution to diners.
In the new business model, consumers order meals from restaurants on an app, and the food is picked by a "third party" — the shared restaurant. The diners then have the meal at the "shared restaurant."
The Huangpu District market watchdog has granted the operation license to the shared restaurant located in SML Center, a shopping mall, on Friday.
At the restaurant, diners can order meals from seven restaurants inside the shopping mall with 86 cuisines and snacks available. The cuisine styles range from Hong Kong, Shanghainese to Sichuan, Xinjiang and northwest China.
The business model tackles the woes of waiting at popular restaurants. Consumers can order meals on an app in advance and have the meal immediately when they arrive at the shared restaurant. If there are long queues at popular restaurants inside the shopping mall when there is no empty seat, they will also be advised to turn to the shared restaurant to avoid wait.
"About 20 percent of diners leave on average when there is waiting at restaurants, and the idea of the shared restaurant originated from preventing that situation and providing better dining experiences to diners," said Li Xuan with Shanghai-based dining application Seat Now, which operates the shared restaurant.
The average waiting time of cuisine serving after consumers order a meal on the app is 17 minutes, and 25 minutes in peak time. The shared restaurant has cooperation with seven restaurants which give a priority in preparing and cooking food for the shared restaurant.
At the same time, diners who are friends or family are able to enjoy cuisines of different styles from different restaurants on the same table at the "shared restaurant."
The shared restaurant has 121 seats. More than 80 percent of its space is dining area, compared with 60 percent of traditional restaurants because it does not need cooking area.
There is no extra charge for diners who enjoy the same prices of cuisines at ordered restaurants because the profit model is from cooperation with restaurants.
"I come here out of curiosity because I have no idea what is a shared restaurant," said Julia Lin, a white collar worker in the area.
"I usually give up when the queuing time is over 15 minutes, and the shared restaurant seems to be a good option," she said. Lin ordered two cuisines from a Sichuan-style restaurant and she received the food after 20 minutes.
Officials with the Huangpu District Market Supervision and Management Bureau said there is no current explanation and regulation covering the new business type, and the bureau reported to the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration, which hosted several rounds of experts' evaluation on the shared restaurant. The administration then issued guidelines on the new dining model, which demand that the dining venue, or “shared restaurant” should be in the same building as the restaurant, or at least within 800 meters.
The food delivery boxes should follow food safety standard, and disinfectant procedures must be ensured.
The “shared restaurant” has to be clean and must have disinfectant facilities. Oil-water separator is also a must.
If the dining venue has a capacity of more than 75 seats, a dishwasher is required, the guideline states.
All these requirements aim to prevent cross contamination and ensure food safety.
The shared restaurant is in talks with more restaurants inside the shopping mall, and another one is expected in Pudong New Area within this year.