How Brent Rodgers turned a juice company into a door-to-door virtual food-market-and-more for yuppies — and guppies
It’s a warm Saturday, and you’re relaxing by the pool when you realize you’ve run out of beer or a bottle of white wine. There’s none in the fridge. You used to get half-dressed, grab the car keys and run to the 7-11. Now, just touch a few buttons and within the hour, the beer — and lots of other things — will have come to you. That’s the magic of the new Dallas-based grocery-delivery app called Plat.
Plat (pronounced plate) is the brainchild of foodie entrepreneur Brent Rodgers. Rodgers is the man behind Roots Juices, which started three years ago as an online juice-delivery service before opening a storefront on Oak Lawn Avenue. It’s now in three additional cities (Houston, Little Rock, Atlanta) with a second Dallas location set to open in Lakewood next month. And from Roots did mighty Plat grow.
“We were making 110 deliveries a week just of juice, but it kept expanding,” Rodgers explains from a stole inside Roots Juices. They would deliver not just bottles of juice, but also select items (fruits, snacks) from the small pantry. But customers kept wanting more and more.
“People came in everyday to ask if we could deliver” more items, Rodgers says. The question was how to do it.
Online grocery delivery services are nothing new, but ever the perfectionist, Rodgers wanted to do it the right way.
First off, it had to be easy to use. And while Plat does have a desktop website, it was original designed as an effortless smartphone app.
“We wanted the look of simplicity even though it’s actually very complicated,” he says. Rodgers’ partner is an engineer, which made developing the user-friendly app a little easier. But even that was just the first step. Next up was convenience.
“I am an anti-fee person,” Rodgers says. He knew Plat would only take off with no delivery fee whatsoever (there is, though, a very reasonable minimum order of $35). Then came speed: One hour delivery, guaranteed … “and we’ve never been late… not once, though we have been close,” he brags.
The system is efficiency itself: An order comes to their warehouse on Harry Hines and is filled within five minutes.
Then it’s just a question of getting to the customer. Most orders are from high-rises in the Uptown area, though he has noticed a great deal of traffic as far as Addison. “We don’t do a whole lot of moms — right now it’s lots of young singles,” he says.
One of the coolest features of the app? A recipes section: Scan through photos of easy-to-make dishes, and when you find one you want, you can instantly purchase all the items needed to turn it into a meal. It’s cheaper and easier than take-out!
The final step of the process was curating a small but thoughtful inventory. At present, there are about 350 items for purchase, but new ones are being added all the time (Blue Bell is one of the most recent). They try to keep on hand “one type of everything,” though the app does offer three different price points for wine (including from Hall
Winery), three kinds of dip (from hummus to salsa) and even common household items. Rodgers has his sights set next on a prepared foods section.
Eventually, Rodgers hopes to expand even further — more items, more locations, more services … all stops along the path to the ultimate goal: Becoming the Uber of food.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 21, 2015.