The COVID-19 pandemic has had sweeping impacts on businesses of all kinds, especially the food industry. Cheetah, a startup that began as an app-based wholesale food delivery service to restaurants, found itself with a dearth of clientele in March of this year, when the pandemic caused restaurants to close their doors.
Prior to the pandemic, Cheetah had secured about 3,000 restaurant customers including a strong foothold in the Bay Area due to its wholesale prices and ease of use. Many restaurants have to go through a rigorous credit verification process with major food distributors, but Cheetah made the process as simple as making a few clicks on a smartphone.
Yet, the onset of shelter-in-place orders left the start-up with a glut of grocery and fresh foods, while families struggled to purchase necessary provisions at major grocery chains and grocery delivery services such as Amazon backed up for days.
“COVID hit and completely changed the plan,” said Cheetah spokesperson, Valentin Saitarli. “Cheetah was able to shift very quickly from business-to-business to business-to-customers. Cheetah converted trucks and created drop-off locations. So the truck would come and they would have contactless pickup points where people can drive through and don’t even need to exit their car, just open trunk and the order is loaded in for no interaction. It has served very well for many clients.”
Cheetah currently has 10 grocery pick-up locations in the Bay Area including one at 1290 Coleman Ave. in Santa Clara. Prospective customers can download the free Cheetah app, shop for groceries online and then either schedule home delivery or contact-free pickup at a preferred location. While the pickup service is free, there is a charge for delivery that varies depending on location. Pickup hours are Monday through Saturday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and deliveries are made Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
In addition to the wholesale grocery app, Cheetah has also launched a food giving program to help people who have faced financial hardships due to COVID-19. The program involves mobile fridges that are stocked with food supplied from Cheetah’s warehouses that anyone in need can visit for basic food needs. There are currently two fridges located in Oakland and one in San Jose, and Cheetah is hoping to find more community partners throughout the Bay Area who can offer an outdoor space for a fridge such as a small area in a parking lot. The fridges are adorned with paintings by local artists Juan Lopez and Kristine Brandt, whose work will be auctioned in the future.
“The impact of COVID-19 on our lives is still unfolding, but we already know that many people have lost their jobs and are struggling to put food on the table. In times like this it is our responsibility to support the community,” said Na’ama Moran, co-founder and CEO of Cheetah.
“By promoting #FoodGiving and placing community fridges around the Bay Area, we address two important topics: food waste and food insecurity,” continued Moran. “Cheetah has both food for donation and a fleet of trucks driving around the Bay Area to supply our restaurants and family customers; we will use these trucks to replenish our community fridges a few times per week. We are very excited to support the #FoodGiving movement, and hope to see the Bay Area community joining this campaign.”