Editor’s note: We kicked off our first annual Food Loves Tech event last summer in Chelsea—here’s a recap. We’re bringing a taste of the food and farming future back this year, but just across the East River at Industry City. Leading up to the event, this story is part of an ongoing series about technology’s effects on our food supply.
When you think about leaving New York City for somewhere a bit slower-paced, you probably also think about how much you’d miss bagels from Russ & Daughters or pizza from Roberta’s. If that’s what keeps you in place, perhaps you haven’t heard of Goldbely, the company from former Delivery.com CEO and Eats.com founder Joe Ariel that launched back in 2013. Goldbely gets rid of pesky geographic restrictions to let you enjoy, say, a Papaya King hot dog at the Grand Canyon. “I oftentimes wondered: If you blurred the lines of hyperlocal delivery, where could that take you?” Ariel tells me over Dough doughnuts and coffee at Think Coffee. It seems he’s found the answer.
It wasn’t just that tech-based question that drove Ariel. He wanted to inspire food memories, based on his own experience of just how amazing it can be to be reunited with your favorite flavors. After returning to his native New York following college at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, he found he missed the taste of barbecue and biscuits. He called in some favors and had the items he craved shipped up. “When I opened those boxes and smelled those smells and felt the nostalgia of the past, I realized there was something big there,” he says. “I really started thinking about the specialty food landscape and realized there’s so much that’s regionally inspired, that’s nostalgia inspired, that’s special about certain cities across the country. So many of these food makers, on a local level, have lines out the door and are fully tapped out, but the thing they hadn’t figured out was how to get their product to an audience nationwide.” That’s where Goldbely comes in.
When a business is accepted into the service, the team at Goldbely figures out the best way for the items to be shipped—whether that’s on ice, in liquid nitrogen or through some other method for keeping it fresh—but beyond providing the guidance and infrastructure, doesn’t touch the food. Some items can come to you as they would if you ordered them from down the street, like a muffaletta from Central Grocery in New Orleans, while others arrive ready for some heat and assembly, like Pittsburgh’s classic Primanti Bros. sandwich.
Beyond the food memories, too, Goldbely allows people far from the epicenters of food trends to get a taste of, say, Momofuku Milk Bar after catching Christina Tosi on TV or seeing the famous cakes on Instagram. Through the service, small businesses get to find a new audience and big eaters get to experience regional specialties for way less than the price of a vacation.
If you’re looking for a nostalgic flavor you miss or want to send someone a taste of New York, get combing through the site’s over 300 vendors.