SpoonRocket provides cheap and easy alternative to junk food

Anson Tsui/Courtesy

Related Posts

With school back in swing, UC Berkeley students are now joining the ranks of customers already ordering organic, hormone-free meals for about $6.

The Berkeley-based company SpoonRocket, which has been in business since June 26, was founded by UC Berkeley graduates Steven Hsiao and Anson Tsui. The two hired chef David Cramer, who whips up two choices every day — one meat option and one vegetarian or vegan option. Orders can be placed by phone or online from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.

“We only offer two items a day, which allows us to have the freshest ingredients — and it cuts costs because we only pick up a few items per day,” Tsui said. “People hate making choices so our customers tend to like the two-item option.”

Hsiao said the meals are first prepared in batches and then placed into seven SpoonRocket cars stationed in various parts of Berkeley and Emeryville, thus saving time. The company doesn’t advertise how quickly meals arrive, he said, because they want it to be a pleasant surprise to their customers.

UC Berkeley junior Robert Potter has been ordering the meals three times a week since his friend recommended the company for its speed and ease of use.

“My favorite meal offered were the lamb kebabs, and I have never waited more than five minutes for a meal,” Potter said. “However, I tend to eat a lot so the portion sizes aren’t adequate for me, but for other people they are.”

Tsui and Hsiao — who originally started Late Night Option, an online food court at which customers can order anything from pho to deep fried Twinkies from 11 a.m. until 4 a.m. — decided to open SpoonRocket because they felt guilty about making money from selling unhealthy food.

“It made great money and people loved it, but we are really healthy eaters and we didn’t feel good about it,” Tsui said.

In July, Tsui and Hsiao temporarily stopped Late Night Option because they needed a facility to cook meals for SpoonRocket. Hsiao said that although the suspension was slated to end by the end of summer, restarting services may take longer than planned.

Though SpoonRocket’s delivery service is currently confined to Berkeley and Emeryville, Hsiao and Tsui said they are aiming to expand the service to the entire Bay Area by the end of the year — and ultimately nationwide.

Moreover, Hsiao said the company will also begin providing dessert within the next few weeks and will also extend their hours to 4 a.m.

So far, SpoonRocket is doing well, with a rare 4 1/2-star rating on Yelp.

“We do feel very strongly that we have a great service,” Hsiao said. “Our goal is to provide very affordable, convenient food at a reasonable price. The model is about efficiency.”

Contact Sophie Mattson at [email protected].