The quandary of what to eat for dinner when you're an exhausted, busy professional seeking something healthier than delivery pizza has been a goldmine for SF entrepreneurs of late, who've launched everything from delivery services (Munchery, Spoonrocket, Sprig) to easy home-cooking options (Blue Apron, Plated) to address the gap. Now, local entrepreneur Dylan Walker is attempting to bring the quick and healthy model to a more customizable level with the arrival of Plate (3251 Pierce St.), a takeout-only Marina restaurant where diners get to put together their own meal combos.
Walker, a first-time restaurateur who was originally in the medical-device industry, has developed a simple concept for Plate: diners order a main dish and two sides of their choice, and the company will assemble them on a to-go ceramic plate for reheating at home. Dishes come in two sizes, the standard "Fit" or the extra-large "Ultra," as well as a kid's size with special options for youngsters. The plates are ceramic and reusable, cutting down on waste; customers can either keep them or return them for a $1 credit.
To make ordering from Plate as easy as possible, Walker's chef team will prepare all the restaurant's food in a Daly City commercial kitchen, then bring it up to the Marina each afternoon. Diners can order and pay from Plate's website or a proprietary app (with as little as 15-30 minutes' and as much as two days' notice), or just walk in and pick up. One big advantage for pre-ordering: curbside pick-up, meaning no parking hassle.
Walker has been working with a chef team and a local focus group of diners to test recipes for over a year, and has settled on a rotation of dishes that stand up to reheating. Plate will offer eight main dishes and around a dozen sides each day, with vegetarian, vegan, paleo, and gluten-free options all available; they'll also offer non-alcoholic bottled drinks, like coconut water and artisanal root beer. While the menu will change daily, it'll be the same each week, so the sesame-braised kale, for example, will be offered every Wednesday.
Plate is intended primarily for the dinner rush, so it won't offer lunch or seating, but Walker says he's in talks with neighboring bar Monaghan's to offer a microwave for Plate diners to heat up their meals and enjoy a drink. The current timeline for Plate's debut is early May; if it's successful, Walker hopes to open other outposts of the concept around town.