It appears that swiftly growing prepared-food startup Munchery is, like some other startups, breaking some laws in order to do business here in S.F. As Uptown Almanac reports, in addition to collecting multiple parking tickets weekly for a fleet of illegally parked refrigerated trucks, the company appears to be using those trucks to store the meals being prepared each morning at their Alabama Street headquarters.
The health department might look askance on the fact that the company doesn't appear to have adequate food storage space on premises, necessitating their use of the diesel-powered trucks, which they illegally leave idling in order to keep the refrigeration component working. But the immediately law-breaking here is the idling trucks themselves. They've apparently tried to quell neighborhood complaints about all the diesel exhaust by giving out free meals. So much for "eco-friendly everything."
And local chef/Twitter firebrand Richie Nakano adds fuel to the story saying, "I used to share a kitchen with these guys. Having seen their food safety practices firsthand, this is no surprise."
Munchery, which is part of a growing legion of food-delivery apps and startups around town, recently had a $28 million funding round, as Forbes reported. But clearly they've funneled that money into their expansion to Seattle in July and upcoming plans for New York and L.A., rather than into leasing some space here with adequate refrigerator capacity.
Munchery's CEO Tri Tran has already denied the claim that they keep trucks idling all day long, but at least one neighboring tipster says one truck, indeed, is kept running. And you can't deny this photo, in re: the illegal parking.
Update: Tran has reached out to give his side, and while he admits that the company has collected some parking tickets on street cleaning days, he insists they do not at any time leave trucks idling. As for not having enough cold storage, he says that is also false. Also, he says, Nakano is biased against his company and "There is nothing in the world I take more seriously than food safety and the health of our customers." He adds:
As context for why we do these things, I’m an immigrant who came to this country without my parents when I was 11. The Bay Area has given me a lot I have a wife, two small kids, and a house in Ingleside. I feel very lucky to live here, and it’s critically important to me that Munchery is a force for good and for giving back.
Update 2: A neighbor of Munchery, having read Tran's claims of innocence with regard to his trucks idling on Alabama Street, writes in to SFist. "Today is the first day in months we haven't had to put up with the constant noise of the reefer units on their trucks and the diesel smell from these idling units. In contrast from what Tran is saying the trucks begin idling at 6:00 AM and do not stop until 7:00pm, sometimes not at all."