If you’ve ever ordered dinner for a group, then this scenario will sound familiar: You’re craving Thai, but your husband is in the mood for a burger. Or your kids want pizza—for the third time this week—but you’d prefer sushi. Food delivery services such as Grubhub and Postmates have helped ease some of the frustration by putting an endless number of restaurants at your fingertips—but you still need to submit separate orders, and your food sits under a heat lamp until a driver is able to pick it up, meaning it’s less-than-fresh by the time it arrives at your doorstep.
Chris Baggott thought he could make the whole system better. ClusterTruck, a delivery-only restaurant, is his solution. Founded in Indianapolis in April 2016, ClusterTruck provides variety through 12 virtual food trucks—ranging from Mexican fare at Taqueria Rapido to Thai offerings at Rice to Meet You to five varieties of tater tots at Tot Tot Tots. A group ordering feature makes figuring out what’s for dinner or an office lunch a cinch. “Everyone can get what they want,” says CEO Baggott, who previously co-founded ExactTarget and Compendium Software.
All of the stocks, sauces, and dressings are made in-house, and more than half of the protein is from Baggott’s farm in Indiana. The first Denver location, in the Ballpark neighborhood, opened on Monday, December 4.
Here’s how it works: Once your order is placed (on the website or through the app), the high-tech algorithm Baggott and his team developed gets to work. First, it pings for drivers. Once one is located, the system determines when the driver will arrive at the kitchen and informs the cooks to start grilling that burger or tossing together a salad at the appropriate time so the food will be ready shortly after the driver arrives; your food never sits waiting for pick up. ClusterTruck only delivers within about a six-minute drive from the kitchen, so your food doesn’t have to travel far either.
“There are things [like burgers] that just don’t travel well because of the time [it takes to deliver them],” Baggott says. “We’ve solved the time problem. We’re averaging 21 minutes from order to delivery.”
In exchange for such speed and free delivery, you have to meet the delivery car (or bike) outside to pick up your food. (The driver never gets out of the car, which saves more time.) And because of that six-minute promise, ClusterTruck’s downtown location is only able to deliver within a central city radius—see if you fall within the boundaries—that includes LoDo, RiNo/Five Points, Uptown, Capitol Hill, and parts of City Park. The average order is around $12.
Baggott plans to add two additional menu concepts, including a poke offering, in the near future. ClusterTruck is also expanding to more cities next year, though Denver will remain Colorado’s sole location (for now).
ClusterTruck is open Sunday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Saturday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.