Koreatown is one of the few places in the world where you can get Korean BBQ, Salvadoran pupusas, and Vietnamese pho all within walking distance, but let’s face it, sometimes we just don’t have the time or the energy to get our buns off the couch. If you’re having one of those lazy or time-strapped moments in Koreatown, fear not of starvation – there is now an app that lets you order food for delivery from many of the neighborhood’s restaurants.
RushOrder, a free food delivery app for your phone, offers delivery service for restaurants throughout Los Angeles County but focuses on niche markets and restaurants overlooked by more established delivery apps. It specifically focuses on Koreatown and making its diverse restaurants more accessible to those not familiar with the neighborhood.
The app was conceptualized in March 2013 and was developed by a team in Korea before launching in February 2014. It has raised $1 million in capital and now has about 10 employees working on the Los Angeles market, some of whom work remotely.
Henry Choi, head of sales and marketing for the company, grew up in Koreatown and is very familiar with the restaurants in the neighborhood. He said that the initial idea was just to have a mobile food ordering app, and the idea to focus on Koreatown emerged later on during the development phase.
“We were trying to figure out our strengths as a company… Most of the employees are Korean and are familiar with Koreatown, so we have that advantage,” he said.
The company partners with a third party to deliver the food within an hour or less, and each restaurant on the app specifies the range of distance within which they will deliver, with most food being delivered within a 2-3 mile radius from the restaurant.
Eric Kim, COO, said that the company’s goal is to promote both ease and exploration of food, providing fast and convenient delivery service while also giving diners exposure to food they would not otherwise get.
“Grubhub and G24 have been around for a while; our approach is targeting those neighborhoods that are left out by these bigger players, like Chinatown… restaurants that are hard to launch on an app, for instance because of language barriers,” he said.
For Koreatown, despite its rising reputation as a culinary mecca, many of its older restaurants still remain a mystery to those outside of the Korean American community, with all signs and menus in Korean and only Korean-speaking servers. The team at RushOrder makes such restaurants more accessible by translating the menus and also providing pictures with the descriptions.
“One of our goals is to give exposure to these restaurants,” said Choi. “Korean cuisine has become really popular… [but] many people in LA were not familiar with it. We want to help them gain more knowledge, and also provide a convenient way of doing it.”
The company hopes to expand to other cities in the future, but for now it is focusing on Los Angeles. It currently has about 300 restaurants across Los Angeles County either set up in the app or in the pipeline, and about 55 of them are in Koreatown.