Illustration of sandwiches being prepared for a box lunch, 1931. Screen print. Photo: GraphicaArtis/Getty Images

The latest craze among the weekday lunch crowd in San Francisco, among other cities, is an app called MealPal that lets customers grab a meal for about $6, usually at least $2–$3 below the normal cost.

Bottom line: MealPal is far from the first startup to try to improve the lunch experience, from apps like OrderAhead, for pre-ordering meals, or Allset, for skipping the line at restaurants, to various loyalty services for frequent patrons.

  • But according to MealPal co-founder and CEO Mary Biggins, who previously helped start fitness class subscription company ClassPass, her company’s winning combination is that it makes lunch more convenient for customers (they pre-order their meals) and also saves them money.

How it works: Every day, MealPal restaurants select a meal for the app’s customers. More than 90% of those meals are already available on the restaurants’ regular menu, though some do prepare a special portion or item for MealPal users. Customers purchase monthly meal subscription plans, which vary slightly per city, and choose which restaurants to visit each day to get lunch.

  • For restaurants, this is an efficient way to prepare a large number of meals quickly and easily as they receive the day’s orders in the morning, says Biggins.
  • MealPal already has 4,000 restaurants across 16 cities in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and only 7% of restaurants who have tried the service have left, according to Biggins.
  • The company has also been able to keep its marketing spend minimal — more than 80% of its customers heard about the service via a friend or co-worker.

What’s next: New York-based MealPal, which has raised $35 million in funding since its founding in 2016, is quietly working on ways to let entrepreneurs sell lunches via its service without needing all the expensive trappings of a conventional restaurant, like a storefront. Biggins wouldn’t share more details about how that would work but did say that meals will be for pick up, not delivery.

Go deeper

Ousted former U.S. attorney for SDNY to testify before House Judiciary Committee

Berman in October 2019 in New York City. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Geoffrey Berman, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, is scheduled to testify to the House Judiciary Committee next week on the circumstances of his forced resignation, Politico reports, citing a congressional aide.

Why it matters: As the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Berman oversaw high-profile cases that worried and angered President Trump and his inner circle, including an investigation into his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. His removal has added to allegations by Democrats that Attorney General Bill Barr has politicized the Justice Department under President Trump.

Stimulus outlook takes a hit even as coronavirus cases skyrocket

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The pandemic is getting worse, and the question is whether the economic recovery will go with it.

Why it matters: America adding 7.5 million jobs over the last two months pales in comparison to 20+ million lost over the two months prior.

2 hours ago - Health

Texas governor mandates face masks in public spaces

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an executive order Thursday requiring all Texans to wear a face covering in public in counties with 20 or more positive coronavirus cases.

Why it matters: It's a dramatic reversal by the Republican governor that underscores the severity of the outbreak in Texas, which set a single-day record on Wednesday with more than 8,000 confirmed new cases. On June 3, Abbott issued an executive order banning local governments from imposing fines on people who don't wear masks in public.