A local startup is focused on providing community members with Rochester-based culinary experiences.
The idea for CurAte grew out of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a way to help struggling businesses who were forced last year to either shift to a take-out model with limited staff or close altogether.
“Restaurants were either overwhelmed or had no business,” said CurAte Co-Founder Chris Lindstrom. “Either way, it was hard for them to grow.”
In response, Lindstrom and his business partners started CurAte, which offers a chef designed meal showcasing a featured cuisine from Rochester-areas restaurants.
He says the concept is a way to create a fun meal experience for customers.
The meals are available on select Wednesday evenings and can either be delivered or picked up from a centralized location at The Historic German House on Gregory Street in the South Wedge.
The meals are served family style for two people and priced to include delivery.
The next meal event is scheduled for Wednesday, June 23 at 6 p.m. and orders must be placed a day before delivery.
The business delivers to 24 zip codes in the Greater Rochester area. It employs two drivers who deliver the food in insulated delivery bags within a one-hour time span. Lindstrom hopes to add more drivers as the business grows.
Since Lindstrom wants people to keep an open mind and try something new to eat, the meal is not disclosed until it is delivered. Diners are, however, given dietary information on the meals, including if they are vegan or gluten free.
There is also a suggested pairing list of local wines, beers and spirits for the meals. A pickup option that includes the ability to purchase drink pairings on site at The Historic German House was recently added.
Lindstrom is well versed in the local food scene, particularly when it comes to diverse cuisine. He has written restaurant reviews and hosts the podcasts Food About Town and In Good Spirits.
He launched CurAte earlier this year with his partners at another local start-up called Phrankly, which is a consumer engagement and business listing platform for restaurants and farms focused on transparency in food sourcing.
The goal of CurAte is to deliver great, local food to consumers in a way that benefits everyone in the supply chain, from restaurants to delivery drivers, he said.
For example, preparing multiple meals of one entre allows for better margins for the restaurants. There is also an emphasis on fair and equitable pay for delivery drivers, he added.
The concept quickly resonated with people and CurAte has developed a loyal base, holding its 11th meal event this week.
Previous meals include those from Pita Restaurant, a Lebanese eatery in College Town; Neno’s Gourmet Mexican Street Food on Monroe Avenue; and Swan Market, a German restaurant on Parsells Avenue.
Other featured cuisines have been Indian, Korean, Jamaican and Ethiopian.
CurAte’s success mirrors national data that shows local food delivery service has been on the rise.
The Institute for Local Self Reliance, a national research and advocacy organization, recently reported that independent local restaurant delivery businesses are a better alternative to big national delivery apps like Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats because they charge lower fees, pay their drivers more and keep wealth in the community.
Lindstrom said the business would like to expand and eventually offer in-person events in the Rochester area, followed by more outside of the region. CurAte is also interested in creating partnerships with the restaurants it collaborates with, including The Historic German House.
“It’s not a one-time thing,” he says. “We are hoping to develop long-term relationships.”
Andrea Deckert is a Rochester-area freelance writer.i