It's always been fun to be a decadent asshole, but it's never been so easy. It's also apparently good business to help scale haute tech self-indulgence, as evidenced by a buzzy new food startup that's literally called Caviar.
The premise and design of Caviar are nearly identical to Seamless, the mega-popular internet food shovel: you get hungry, you click around the menus of different local restaurants, and food shows up at your door without having to touch cash or think about tipping. Where Caviar (no, really, it's called Caviar) differs from competitors is its stable of restaurants. Seamless is full of greasy neighborhood pizza places and pedestrian, affordable staples like kung pao, while Caviar delivers food from fancy places that don't otherwise deliver food, ever. In the mood for a $30 cured meat plate? A $60 cake? A lobster roll? Actual caviar? Are you a Howard Hughes figure, too bedridden and insane to just go out and eat at a nice restaurant, if that's what you're in the mood for?
Caviar helps high-end restaurants sell and deliver anything on their menu to customers who can't come in for a meal. This means restaurateurs and chefs don't have to become Web marketers or managers of small logistics teams, Mr. Wang said.
Once Caviar strikes a partnership with a dining establishment, which involves rigorous market research and taste-testing, the 45-employee startup sends professional photographers to capture all of the restaurant's available dishes and uploads the original pictures and descriptions to their website.
Finally, a solution to the age old problem expensive restaurants in Manhattan have faced for decades: who will eat all this food we keep cooking? Why didn't we install a door in our restaurant, or buy any tables?
It seems a bit silly to me, but plenty of investors are onboard: Caviar just raised $13 million dollars in venture capital, and counts Cameron Winklevoss as an early booster. If ostensibly smart people with capital are willing to give this thing a go, maybe I'm just missing something?
I decided to give the Indulgence Economy a shot, and ordered a single caviar blini to my desk last night—the perfect Silicon Alley snack. The single, tiny blob of eggs on a cracker cost $5. There was no order, and no delivery fee. I closed my eyes and fondly remembered Kozmo.com. The weather was lousy, so traffic was snarled, but I was able to track my delivery guy Chris as he made the roughly sixty block trip south at an agonizing pace.
Agonizing for him, not me, since I was the one sitting at a computer waiting for caviar on a cracker to arrive out of the ether. Also agonizing for Chris because I had no option to tip him extra for this horrible job. Also possibly agonizing for Caviar's owners and backers once they realize I paid about six bucks for a food item and two hours of someone's labor. Or not, since implausible niche startups that operate at an obvious loss are super chic these days.
Chris finally arrived, drenched, looking miserable. I ate the soggy blini, which came in an incredibly small plastic container, and it was gross. I felt gross. The entire thing tasted and felt and looked and was gross. Maybe I should have gotten the $60 internet cake.