With limited dine-in options available across the nation, many people are currently opting to get their food delivered to them. With your typical delivery service, such as Uber Eats or Grubhub, there is convenience, but every order from Good Uncle — a food truck that delivers ready-to-eat meals made from their own chefs — offers both convenience and a diverse array of dishes at several pre-established drop points around Charlottesville.
The food is produced and prepared in their Charlottesville kitchens — there are regional kitchens just above the University and there are also fulfilment centers, where Good Uncle holds their trucks, on Grounds. As soon as a consumer places an order on the app, the food finishes cooking in the Good Uncle vehicle that delivers the food. All of their food is produced in their regional kitchens, loaded into refrigerated vehicles at the fulfillment center and finished cooking in the food trucks’ ovens.
Good Uncle was created in 2016 with the goal of delivering fresh food efficiently to college campuses. Now, the company operates at multiple University locations, including Syracuse University and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and corporate and healthcare locations. Good Uncle officially launched Aug. 31 at the University.
Good Uncle’s menu is versatile, as it is updated bi-weekly, and flexible to accommodate customers who have dietary preferences, including needing vegan and gluten-free food.
With the app, customers can easily order and receive their food in just three steps. First, users select a drop point and are shown how many minutes it will take for the food to arrive at the location. Second, customers will choose what items they want to purchase and check out. After that, the driver will text once the food is on the way to the stop and will text again once the food is bagged and ready to be picked up.
Some dishes on the menu include the pesto caprese with chicken, Greek goddess bowl, truffle mac and cheese and roasted salmon plate — these listed dishes, with the exception of the truffle mac and cheese, are staple meals on the menu.
Some student favorites include the Mexican burrito bowl, southwest salad and BBQ pulled pork plate — all of which were created by consulting with a team of culinary chefs. Furthermore, the company takes students’ reviews and feedback into consideration when creating and testing new recipes. Good Uncle also serves weekend brunch and dessert, such as their double chocolate and snickerdoodle cookie doughs. Menu items typically range from $6.49 to $12.99 while desserts are typically $6 to $7.
Despite Good Uncle's high aspirations to revamp the Charlottesville delivery service scene, a number of University students have not had the best experiences when it comes to ordering.
Fourth-year College student Vanessa Revilla ordered the Korean BBQ beef bowl and gave it a rating of 8 out of 10. Although the meal was free and convenient because she used the first-time promo code, it did not meet her expectations in terms of taste as she believes the spinach was slightly bland. The Korean BBQ bowl was originally $14, which she felt was a little too expensive. Even though she didn’t give it a 100 percent rating, she stated that she would eat it again and would also recommend Good Uncle to a friend.
“[Good Uncle was] a little late to arrive at the pick up spot,” Revilla said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “But they gave me an $8 discount on my next meal to compensate for it, so I was happy.”
But not all students have had such favorable experiences. Third-year College student Chan Sohn ordered the four cheese mac and cheese and expressed concerns about the efficiency of the ordering and delivering system as his order did not arrive and he was not refunded.
“I guess coming to a location near me was kind of enticing, but I don't think [their] delivery system is very efficient,” Sohn said.
As a result of this experience, although Sohn believes that Good Uncle’s overall goals and ideas are good, he would not recommend the company to a friend.
“I wish there was better communication other than just automated text messages,” Sohn said. “[However,] it is convenient to have [Good Uncle] come in a food truck to nearby locations to students.”
Delayed delivery times can be attributed to Good Uncle’s popular demand from the University’s students. Ever since their launch, Dylan Gan, Good Uncle’s director of growth and marketing, has expressed that the University is one of their biggest markets as they served an estimate of over 3,800 students. Good Uncle is planning on adding more dropoff points around the University and other resources to respond to the company’s high demand. Furthermore, to respond to their high demand, they tweak their routes and technology as they prioritize good experience for the students.
Although Good Uncle wasn’t a favorable experience for Sohn, its approval ratings says that most of its customers have had favorable experiences. As a startup in the midst of a pandemic, there are plausible criticisms that are bound to appear, however, Good Uncle strives to satisfy their customers and continues to improve upon their service to work out all the inconveniences.
With COVID-19 limiting dining options, Good Uncle is excited to provide its service to the University. This atypical food delivery platform hopes to establish itself as a viable alternative in the meantime.
“We are really happy to be at [the University] and provide a service that students really need, especially during coronavirus,” Gan said. “We are excited to be here and to be a part of the community for the long term.”