San Francisco Restaurant Launches Unique Meal Plan Subscription for Isolated Residents

Residents who are sheltering in place because of the coronavirus can order breakfast, lunch or dinner meals for pick-up or delivery.

San Francisco restaurant Samovar is meeting customers where they are – isolated at home under California’s “shelter in place” order. The restaurant has developed a new type of meal plan subscription, specifically to address the needs of customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. Samovar is now offering family style meals and provisions for pick-up or delivery to provide healthy, convenient meals. The menus vary based on what’s available in the marketplace from Samovar’s vendors and local farmers. Provisions include milk, coffee, organic tea, eggs, cheese, beer and wine. Samovar expects to add to the list of food and household goods over time, so that fewer people have to grocery shop.

“I opened Samovar almost 20 years ago to bring people together over healthy food and tea. Our cafes have been places of intimacy, connection and eating well. Now that people can’t come to us, we’re bringing Samovar to them—in the comfort and safety of their own homes. Our team has risen to the occasion, keeping up with the latest CDC guidelines, retooling operations for online ordering, touchless curbside pickup and contactless delivery. We’re ready to bring our classic menu to guests throughout San Francisco,” said Jesse Jacobs, Samovar founder.

In his announcement, Jacobs announced that this idea evolved almost overnight. After fearing that his 18-year-old restaurant would close permanently after laying off more than 70 staffers when the shelter in place order began, Jacobs and his brother Josh used the subscription model to create an essential business that is much needed during these challenging times. The subscription meal plan will keep his business afloat, help his employees keep jobs, and feed Bay area residents who are isolated at home.

“You set the schedule. We prepare a homemade meal for you and your family from our favorite farmers and purveyors,” says the Samovar website.

Samovar is offering three meal plans.

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Samovar offers meal subscription plans for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

{Insert meal plan hero here}

Prices are per person and offer an array of options including omnivore or vegetarian, dairy-free and gluten-free, as well as desired schedule, and pick-up or delivery. Samovar will deliver in the San Francisco area. Pick-up is available at any Samovar location. The breakfast plan, for example, varies daily and may include a selection of fresh fruit, avocado toast, chia pudding, hard boiled eggs, smoked salmon, yogurt, homemade granola, challah French toast, duck hash, homemade pastries, scones and biscuits.

In addition, Samovar offers gift cards for purchase, and it has an online store featuring some of its signature teas, tea sets, teaware and gifts, available at retail and wholesale prices. The online store remains open.

San Francisco's Samovar restaurant is now offering a meal plan subscription to help residents sheltering in place to get meals and provisions.

Jacobs shares the announcement with readers in a blog post:

“…These are truly extraordinary times. Throughout the day, I find myself doing a double take to see if I’m dreaming because I cannot believe my eyes or ears. Overnight, everything has flipped upside down. It’s been difficult for me, for my family, for our staff, for our customers, and—I suppose—for the whole planet.

At Samovar, we’ve felt a shock that continues to reverberate. But, after 18 years of serving up tea and food to the wonderful, inspiring, beautiful people of San Francisco—and shipping to fans across the globe—we’re taking our role as a mandated ‘essential business’ to heart.

In the span of a week, our team has demonstrated courage and ingenuity in rising to the challenge. In addition to adopting the CDC COVID-19 health and food safety guidelines, we’re launching some convenient new ways for you to continue enjoying Samovar,” Jacobs wrote.

Insider Take:

This is such a heartwarming story and a testament to the goodness of human nature and how the subscription model can prop a company up, even in the worst of times. In this situation, after being devastated at having to lay off his entire staff, Jacobs and his brother brainstormed a solution that met everyone’s goals. Samovar employees can continue their jobs while filling a vital need – serving good food and providing household essentials to families in the Bay area to help keep them safe.

At the same time, the subscription model made this opportunity possible. Instead of ordering meals on a one-off basis, residents can make a short-term commitment to order meals in advance, so residents and Samovar can both plan ahead. It seems that those with a positive outlook will always find the bright side of things, while those who are pessimistic will always find something to complain about. We hope more companies will follow Jacobs’ example.