Jamie Moriarty figured surely Amazon already was shipping cold food products across the country. But as Moriarty and his business partners looked into it, they discovered an unfilled need.
And Gourmet Kitchn was born in a Wood Dale warehouse.
Now Gourmet Kitchn is helping a wide variety of food companies all over the Chicago area, and some around the country, to sell and ship their refrigerated and frozen food products around the United States.
Because of how the pandemic was affecting their business, Ready Set Gourmet LLC, now the parent company of Gourmet Kitchn, Moriarty and his several partners began at the start of the summer to look for ways to build an e-commerce site for their products and then ship them. They also looked into what other companies were doing and saw a market. So they asked those food companies, "If we start this e-commerce, cold storage and shipping company, would you be interested?"
"The unanimous response was, 'Definitely, we're in. That's a no-brainer for us.' So at that point we decided to pivot from being a marinated meats company (Ready Set Gourmet) to creating Gourmet Kitchn," Moriarty said.
That was in October. Their soft launch came in November with the company testing packing products and gel packs as well as the ordering process by taking orders and shipping products to family and friends all over the Chicago area and around the country.
In December, they started selling to customers not among their personal cellphone contacts.
Yes, just that fast.
"We were excited," Moriarty said. "We thought we really had something great on our hands. But we knew that we wanted to find out if it was real as quickly as we could. If we were going to fail, we wanted to fail fast."
They didn't fail. Instead they've grown at a rate that Moriarty likened to the shape of a hockey stick.
The first month saw 213% growth. The second month the company grew 141%, followed by 154% in Month 3.
But then in March Gourmet Kitchn scored with the kind of hockey stick Patrick Kane could admire: 349% growth.
"It was exciting to see that we had really identified an opportunity in the e-commerce, direct-to-consumer space," Moriarty said.
That kind of growth brings equally exciting problems, of course.
Now Gourmet Kitchn has to figure out how it's going to grow its staff to match the growth in sales, eyeing three specific areas: administration, shipping and logistics, and technology.
Moriarty probably would like to add sooner rather than later, considering he said he's "wearing about seven or eight hats right now."
The Gourmet Kitchn aims to facilitate the growth of other food companies by setting up an online store to which they can link from their own website. As companies grow, Gourmet Kitchn can help them move the store to each company's website, helping each company start and develop its website along the way.
"Essentially we look at ourselves as a partner for them. We're there to help," Moriarty said. "They're leveraging our abilities to design and to develop and to do the fulfillment and hopefully we can build them up into big brands."
Some of the companies Gourmet Kitchn works with are restaurants that needed to find revenue from alternate sources during the pandemic. Others are caterers with no events to cater. More are small companies looking to find their footing by selling directly to consumers or shipping samples to retail stores. Then there are large companies looking to expand their market.
Prepared meals, pizzas, pastas, smoothies, desserts, gluten-free foods and organic foods. For some products Gourmet Kitchn's site is the only e-source. They offer enough options that consumers can stock their refrigerator and freezer all in one e-cart. An order will be delivered to the consumer's home, usually within two days, depending upon location.
Just don't go to the Gourmet Kitchn website hungry.
"We kind of do cater to everyone just because this space," Moriarty said, "this cold logistics, e-commerce fulfillment for these types of products is so wide open that we're really able to bring in brands of all different shapes and sizes."