Aria Bendix is a frequent contributor to The Atlantic, and a former editorial fellow at CityLab. Her work has appeared on Bustle and The Harvard Crimson.
This new monthly service helps you beat the midday crowd.
From Seamless and GrubHub to Maple and Blue Apron, cities certainly don’t suffer from a shortage of convenient—and cleverly named—food delivery services. But all that money you shell out for your beloved Pad See Ew or trio of street tacos each week can add up pretty quickly. While popular food delivery services are notoriously overpriced—and, in some cases, take a nearly 14 percent commission from the average order—a new service called MealPass aims to offer a more affordable alternative.
It works like this: for a starting fee of $99 per month, users can choose discounted meals at local restaurants and skip the lunchtime lines. (The company estimates that, all in, lunch on the plan will run you about $5 per workday.) Potential customers can enter their information online to be added to a waitlist. Should you sign up? We weighed some pros and cons:
Reasons to buy
It helps you manage your time. Subscribers choose a 15-minute window to swing by the restaurant to pick up their orders. Then you can use the rest of your lunch break to catch up with co-workers, or, yes, to eat alone.
There’s no cash or card involved. Because MealPass is a pre-paid service, there’s no need to bring your wallet with you—just grab and go.
Reasons to pass
Your food options are limited. Each of the participating restaurants offers just one option a day. So if you’re accustomed to purchasing your favorite hoagie at the deli down the street, chances are you’ll need to forgo your preference in favor of a pre-set item.
You have to predict your whims. Subscribers also have to decide what they want for lunch by 9:30 a.m.—hours before those lunchtime cravings set in—to allow restaurants adequate time to prepare. Meal options are posted at 7 p.m. the night before, leaving only a brief window for you to schedule your pick-up.
It’s not available in your city. Currently, MealPass is only available in Boston, Miami, and New York. (About 130 restaurants are signed up in NYC, and a few less in Boston and Miami.) But if it turns out to be as successful as its sister service, the exercise subscription ClassPass, chances are we’ll be seeing it in a number of cities very soon.