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A Delivery-Only Restaurant Aims to Change the Game With Actually Good Food

Called Young Fava, it’s from the former chef of Locanda

San Francisco, whose growing number of delivery options make eating at home easier than ever before, will soon add Young Fava to the mix. Except, rather than a majorly funded start-up, this delivery-only service is an actual restaurant from former Delfina chef Anthony Strong.

For Young Fava, Strong has come up with a menu of what he calls “classic American food,” in the most insider baseball kind of way. For instance, the chef is bringing back 90s era ahi tuna tartare, in addition to new favorites like burrata spring onion dip, burrata shredded up with slowly melted spring onions and lemon oil, and grilled bread with dried ramps to crush over the top. It’s all to be prepared to order, then packaged in Strong’s specially designed packaging and delivered via a service like UberEats.

“I’ve been in the takeout game for 11 years,” Strong told Eater, referring to the many takeout orders that came through the brick-and-mortar restaurants he’s helmed. “My vision is that there can be a closer relationship between restaurant food and the takeout experience.” While with the Delfina Group, Strong started a move in that direction, customizing the pizza crust to hold up better when delivered.

“I've put a lot of time into conceptualizing the menu and doing things that are approachable enough, and given a little extra Bay Area love, plus things that can travel or share well,” said Strong. “But, it's still going to be takeout — it's not going to be The French Laundry in a box by any means and the delivery driver isn't going to crack black pepper on your salad at the door.” And even though it won’t be the French Laundry, the origin story of the company is based on the idea that luxury and delivery food should work more closely together, something Strong says hit him late one night while eating some leftover gourmet food on the couch after work. “I was sitting on the couch eating foie gras torchon, and I thought ‘what if everyone could have this kind of night?’”

And San Franciscans (not to mention the entire country) are certainly ordering more takeout, made even easier by apps and services like Caviar, DoorDash, UberEats, Postmates and the like. The difference is that while Caviar will pick up your order from a restaurant and bring it to you, it’s an item from the regular menu that’s been shoved into a generic takeout container. Some restaurants, like Ramen Shop in Oakland, have adapted their menu to fit the takeout scene— its much-loved ramen is not even on that menu, which features delivery-friendly options like donburi and fried rice instead. Strong wants to fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, finding new ways to serve fresh, inventive food that isn’t just part of the canon of takeout cuisines like pizza and Americanized Chinese food.

“I feel like it's something that people use and rely on so much that it deserves a different kind of attention, and to be embraced by a chef who wants to have some fun with it.”

The entrees are all built to travel, with items that are like pastas but travel better; Korean rice cakes with mushrooms rather than gnocchi, for example. Prices will be similar to a mid-priced restaurant, says Strong, with most entrees priced $24 and under, and salads around $14. That doesn’t take into account an especially luxurious item: Caviar service, with all the accoutrements.

Eric Wolfinger

“I want people to eat caviar in bed, with all the things that come with it,” says Strong. Making certain things acceptable in new ways is part of the chef’s goal with Young Fava, offering decadent items like caviar service at home. And for the right demographic, that combination of convenience and price will hit a sweet spot.

Strong says that because there are so few examples of this kind of business he plans to test demand before settling on a permanent production space. “It's risky in a lot of ways, but less risky in others,” he said. “I don’t have to hire a staff of 50 right off the bat but it's also an untried model.” He’s also rethinking packaging, with a custom box size that leaves diners a few inches on each side to be able to simply get the food out of the bag.

Following his projected mid-June launch, Strong is operating Young Fava out of Turtle Tower, (which closes at 5:30 p.m.) six nights a week, from 6 p.m.- 11 p.m. Diners can order through delivery services — exclusively through UberEats for the first week, then Caviar, DoorDash, Postmates, or through the website for pickup from Turtle Tower.

The big question: Will Chron critic Michael Bauer deign to review this new restaurant model? Strong hopes so— it would certainly win stars for a homey atmosphere. Stay tuned as Young Fava nears launch.