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Hungry For New Amenities, Office Owners Turn To Food Trucks, Delivery Services

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In an increasingly competitive office market, landlords continue to search for new amenities that appeal to tenants. One of latest trends popping up is providing services that bring new lunch options for workers.

Customers at Food Truck Thursdays, a partnership between Curbside Kitchen, the Crystal City BID and JBG Smith
Customers at Food Truck Thursdays, a partnership between Curbside Kitchen, the Crystal City BID and JBG Smith

Many office buildings outside the downtown core don't have lunch options that can be reached without a car, and some busy employees in the restaurant-filled central business district would rather have a delivery service bring food to their building rather than having to walk and wait in line.

Building owners in the D.C. region and throughout the country have realized this need for convenient lunch options and are utilizing new services to bring lunch to their tenants. 

Fast-casual salad chain Sweetgreen last year began piloting a delivery concept for office tenants, and it now services about 75 buildings in the D.C. region and 550 nationwide. 

The service, called Outpost, allows employees to order a salad through a mobile application, and then it delivers all of a building's lunches at a set time to a designated shelf in its lobby. Sweetgreen does not charge delivery fees to customers, making it cheaper than ordering the same food through a standard delivery app. 

"For companies that don't offer lunch in their building, it can be a pain to have to wait for the elevator and wait for a significant amount of time to order a salad at lunch time," said Sweetgreen Vice President Daniel Shlossman, who leads the Outpost service. "This makes it super convenient ... it's an amenity for employees and gives an option for healthy food in the office."

Sweetgreen

Sweetgreen rolled out the concept at about two dozen WeWork locations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and D.C. In addition to office buildings, it is also planning to open Outpost locations at residential properties, schools, hospitals and fitness studios.

The retailer brought the Outpost concept to International Square, a 1.2M SF office complex Tishman Speyer owns in D.C. Tishman Speyer has also introduced Sweetgreen's Outpost at properties in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, including Rockefeller Center. 

Tishman Speyer Managing Director EB Kelly, who oversees the management of Rockefeller Center, said the complex also has a Sweetgreen brick-and-mortar location opening soon. But it decided to add two Outpost delivery locations, which opened last month, to make it more convenient for tenants to grab a salad for lunch. 

"We've got lots of food offerings, but folks really value the ability to order ahead, they value convenience, and you don't have to worry about waiting in line," Kelly said. 

Additionally, the Sweetgreen concept has opened at the Boston Properties-owned 401 Ninth St. NW building in D.C. Aquicore, a real estate software company that recently moved into the building, highlighted the Sweetgreen service as an important amenity in announcing its office move. 

"The [Sweetgreen] outpost is a convenient means of having our employees get some of their favorite salads without dealing with the cold D.C. winters or rainy springs," Aquicore CEO Logan Soya said in a statement to Bisnow

Food trucks at the Tysons International Plaza complex, arranged through the Curbside Kitchen service
Food trucks at the Tysons International Plaza complex, arranged through the Curbside Kitchen service

In addition to delivery services, building owners are also bringing in food trucks as an amenity for tenants. Amy Katz saw the demand for this and in 2017 founded Curbside Kitchen, a company that connects buildings with food truck operators. 

"I looked around and could see tenants are demanding food options and convenience as part of an amenity package," Katz said. "They were all looking for food programming that did not exist."

Katz said her company now works with over 250 food trucks and has brought its service to over 150 buildings in the D.C. area, Philadelphia and North Carolina. Major D.C.-area building owners using the service include JBG Smith, Brookfield, WashREIT and Monday Properties

The concept, which Katz describes as "Uber for food trucks," offers a rotating cast of food trucks for tenants of office and apartment buildings. She said people like having food trucks because they are local, small businesses that provide diverse cuisines, and they can try something new every time. 

"Any building I go to, when these food trucks arrive, they're like unicorns that drop out of nowhere, people run to see what's going to be out front," Katz said. "People don't want to be tethered to their chairs, they want to go outside, grab a bite and come back in. It's just a smart way to eat."

Curbside Kitchen charges property owners to have the food trucks come to their buildings, and it charges a fee from the food trucks for the increased exposure to a busy lunchtime crowd, but customers do not pay any extra for the food. Brookfield recently began using the food truck service at its Silver Spring Metro Plaza property and said it has been well-received by tenants thus far. 

"Our goal is to create places that help leading companies attract and retain their workforces, and to that end we’re always looking for ways to make our properties more comfortable and convenient," Brookfield Senior Vice President Jackie Duke said in a statement. "A variety of inventive food offerings are an important amenity to any work environment, and Curbside Kitchen provides a convenient, and, so far, popular, addition for our tenants."