By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — No seats, no tables, no servers: The latest trend in the restaurant business has arrived in the Twin Cities.

ClusterTruck is a restaurant with more than 80 menu items, but the entire business is delivered.

“We didn’t make changes to the type of food. The only thing we changed is the process of delivery,” said Minneapolis ClusterTruck General Manager Anton Winter. “The average time for delivery is 20 minutes, from front to finish.”

So how do they do that?

ClusterTruck is centrally located, with the kitchen in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. The kitchen is like any other – with stations for grilling, sautéing, cold stations for salads, and pasta, too.

But the back end – from the website where consumers place orders to the coordination with delivery drivers – is extremely high tech.

“The founders of this company have a lot of background in software,” Winter said.

ClusterTruck’s first location and headquarters are in Indianapolis. They currently are also in Columbus, Kansas City, Denver and Cleveland.

The software orchestrates a delicate dance of timing: coordinating delivery drivers, kitchen cooks and the order the food is prepared.

“We only get an order into the kitchen if we have a driver ready. That way nothing sits around,” Winter explained, noting that orders without drivers ready sit in an online cloud, while extra drivers are summoned.

At a recent lunchtime, a line of a half-dozen drivers cued up in the ClusterTruck facility, ready to move when the order is finished.

“All of our drivers are tracked in real time on GPS, and all of our menu items have a corresponding cook time,” he said.

So you can order a salad, a pizza, a burger, and a hot chicken sandwich – and all the food will be ready at about the same time.

“So we take away a lot of the stress,” Winter said. “The wait time is shorter, the process is easier, in my opinion its higher quality when it arrives.”

The menu is organized into breakfast foods, pub fare, noodles, salads, and Latin fare.

The prices include the delivery – the only extra a customer pays is sales tax and an optional tip for the delivery driver.

The delivery area is about 2 miles, including the North Loop and the central downtown Minneapolis business district. The quality of the food includes local vendors like Red Table Meats and Sun Street Bakery croissants, as well as grass-fed beef in the $8 pub burger.

“We’re excited about the food we’re offering, and our customers are giving us very high reviews on the speed and efficiency of the entire experience,” Winter said.

The future may involve constructing new kitchens, because for the delivery speed to work, the kitchen needs to be relatively close to the customer, he added.

ClusterTruck is open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and open until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.


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