I stopped making my own lunch for a week and switched to Ritual, the order-ahead app that's sweeping San Francisco - Here's what I found
Business Insider/Nick Bastone
Typically, I take my lunch to work. It's healthier than always eating out and helps me save some dough. But microwaved leftovers and soggy PB&J's can get old.
So I decided to try out Ritual - an order-ahead app that I've seen advertised all around San Francisco's Financial District. It's also available in most major US cities like New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.
I was initially wary of Ritual. If I wanted a food app for the sole purpose of convenience, why wouldn't I splurge on a food-delivery app like Caviar that would bring food right to me? Or, if I was optimizing on price, why wouldn't I use MealPal - the monthly subscription service where lunches from local restaurants only cost $6.
The value propositions of Ritual - order ahead, skip the line, and earn rewards - seemed to fall in some awkward middle ground of food apps that didn't seem all too compelling for me.
Nonetheless, I was curious to see why so many techies around me seemed to be loving it.
Here's what I found:
Ritual's main selling point is saving time by ordering ahead and skipping the line. With each purchase, you also earn Ritual rewards.
Near Business Insider's San Francisco office in the Financial District, there are a ton of options. In fact, there are at least 20 restaurants on Ritual within one city block.
You can also browse nearby restaurants in this photo view.
Ritual usually offers a restaurant's full menu. On Monday at Oasis Grill, I was able to choose from a plethora of bowls, wraps, and salads.
Typically, food is ready for pickup within 10-15 minutes.
At Oasis Grill, I went for the chicken shawarma wrap.
Ritual places a major emphasis on its rewards program. There are opportunities throughout the app to earn rewards, like when your pickup is complete. Ritual will give you 100 reward points if you leave a compliment.
The app also places lots of focus on group orders with colleagues. On this day, I was offered 3,000 points for inviting a co-worker to start using Ritual.
Unfortunately, no one else on at Business Insider has signed up.
Initially, I didn't find the rewards program to be that enticing. After a week of using Ritual every day for lunch, I only earned 2,455 points, which works out to be about one free meal every four weeks. Ten thousand points unlocks $10 to spend anywhere within the app.
On my last day, however, I discovered "Perks," which makes Ritual a whole lot more affordable.
On Friday, I got a deviled egg sandwich from The Sentinel for only $6. I used 250 points to save $2.50.
Beyond rewards and savings, Ritual helps you skip the line.
My Le Californien sandwich from La Fromagerie — equipped with turkey, Habanero mango hot sauce, avocado, Point Reyes cheese, and arugula — was perhaps my favorite lunch of the week.
Other lines weren't as long, but it was still nice to have my meal waiting for me upon arrival.
At some places, like MIXT, your order is placed in a refrigerator, so you don't even have to ask an employee for your food.
Most places had a Ritual sign near the front counter where you could pick up your order.
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