A new online food and restaurant marketplace from the creator of the wildly successful fashion resale app Depop will arrive in London in the new year. Simon Beckerman, who founded Depop in 2011, has joined up with Natalie Lee Joe, chef and owner of the now-closed Dalston yakitori restaurant Jidori to launch Delli. “A marketplace and community platform designed for food lovers and passionate makers,” they say. A platform that represents a full-blown embrace of the ever hazier divide between the dining room and restaurant-as-brand experience, whose hype-ability has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The app’s founders hope to be the focal point for an online community as much as they have designs on becoming the de facto marketplace for all things cool and limited edition in the food world. A statement shared with Eater London says Delli “wants dive deeper than just talking about ingredients and shifting product; taking the time to share the fascinating stories and concepts that exist within the food and drink world.”
It goes on: After two very difficult years for the hospitality industry Delli wants to “support the innovative pivots, the new localised networks, and the fighting spirit that emerged amidst the storm.”
Natalie Lee Joe, who closed her restaurant Jidori last August owing to the ruinous effects of lockdown, told Eater that while the pandemic had perhaps hastened Delli’s development, Beckerman “had been thinking about for a while.” It’s just that until now there hadn’t been a time that felt right.
“What the pandemic did bubbled to the surface: Home cooks, businesses pivoting, innovating — it brought it to the fore,” she said. There will be a mixture of collection, local, and national delivery because it wants to be “as supportive of the brands as possible.”
“Another thing that came out of the pandemic is how much we valued local neighbourhoods and communities,” Lee Joe said, referencing the way in which restaurants like Ombra in Hackney embedded themselves in the daily lives of their locales, adapting when government advice changed, or when the needs and wants of the customers shifted according to that advice.
It will work through something it is calling “drops” — a word familiar to sneaker heads and hypebeasts but less so to those who stan their local kefir producer. Delli says it is to overcome “obstacles small producers often face, like food waste” to help “manage cash and ingredient flow.” It is also about keeping supply low and demand high. Although, Delli is keen to expand their definition of sustainability to the conditions under which people work. It “is not just about sourcing or zero waste,” it says, “but also about building businesses that have people at the heart of it.”
Brands which will come on board this week — from Monday 6 December — will include Dalston Middle Eastern restaurant Oren, Hackney and Borough Market’s Elliot’s, and the likes of solo indies like Reuben’s reubens in Brixton. A window into the sorts of drops and product releases Delli’s users may grow to expect is the news that Sonora’s peerless and cult-followed flour tortillas — another pandemic standout — will be available through Delli this week.
“From chocolate to hot sauce, olive oil to kefir, pies to dumplings, and restaurant chefs to home cooks,” Delli says it will provide “a space for makers and buyers to interact with each other and follow the journeys of favourite restaurants, independent brands and individuals, plus those trying out their first product.”
Lee Joe is happy to be working on a new project so soon after closing her restaurant, but the bruising impact of the pandemic is fresh in the memory. So too are the unsupportive realities and burdensome demands of the online platforms which encircled the industry in its time of desperation in 2020. “So much of what we’re trying to do with Delli is not be Deliveroo,” Lee Joe said. That will extend not just to what she believes is a fair, 10 percent, commission rate (that there are yet no plans to raise in future) to maintaining client relationships and supporting the “makers” from day one. (There is no sign-up fee for those makers.)
There’s a definitely start-up mentality running through the project right now. Lee Joe was keen to emphasise that Delli would focus on the people she admires and respects — “People who care about where their food comes from and what their supply chains are like.”
Beckerman will also bring with him Depop alumni Nebil Kriedi, in engineering, and Ashish Saggar in finance as it aims to become the place for those obsessed not just with food but with what’s cool and hot and in short supply in food.
“I enjoy creating spaces for communities that seemingly don’t exist in the mainstream. Throughout the last two years, the hospitality industry moved away from the high street and into our local neighbourhoods and people’s kitchens,” Beckerman said in a statement ahead of this week’s soft launch. “The sentiment of sustainability that has come out of the hardship is what Delli is based on. We hope to build a community that will cultivate a more fun and sustainable future, where the food and drink world becomes more thoughtful, and everyone’s a part of it.”
Ahead of full launch in February 2022, the app will from this week begin revealing itself in stages. More soon.