What happens to unsold restaurant food at the end of the day? Too Good To Go wants to keep it away from the trash. The app, which is free to join, offers consumers a way to purchase the food at discounted rates, avoiding the landfill. Since restaurant leftovers vary day to day, the exact contents often remain a mystery until pickup. On the app, you can input dietary preferences like vegetarian or gluten free.
Too Good To Go was the subject of a viral TikTok about eating on a budget in New York. The video ended with a visit to Greenpoint’s Bagelpoint.
Bagel Point, which opened in 2019, started working with Too Good To Go in fall 2020. At first, they were urged to offer a surprise bag, explained owner and operations manager Sam Kaplan. “I did the surprise thing for a month and I was like it’s not gonna work.” Bagelpoint is known for its many bagel variations and now allows Too Good To Go customers to choose their selections, “They come in and we say pick whatever bagels you want, any pastries. All of those bagels and pastries are fresh and they know what they’re getting. If you’re low income or out of a job, just come the last hour and we’ll give it to you for a lower price.” This policy is similar to several restaurants helping the community with pay-what-you-wish policies.
The app shows options within a two mile radius and bakeries are popular. Bagels and other bread products are best sold the same day, but in a home kitchen they can be frozen or reheated. TooGoodToGo bills itself as the world’s largest B2C marketplace for surplus food and was founded in Denmark to combat food waste. It’s currently popular in Paris, Amsterdam and other European cities and launched in the US in September 2020, starting with Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Bagelpoint offers 3 or 4 Too Good To Go slots each day, which offer customers a $12 value for $4. Prior to working with the app, they were a zero waste shop working with organizations like City Harvest as well as local churches and senior centers to distribute leftovers. Kaplan told Greenpointers that Covid interrupted some of these donations and they struggled to find places to take their leftovers. Since working with Too Good to Go, “We are still donating, but it lowers the amount of donations because of Too Good To Go. It’s been great.” Other local bagel shops on the app include Bagelsmith and Bread Brothers.
For customers, a major selling point of the app is the pricing. A dozen bagels might cost $4.99 and the options change every day. Some grocery stores and full service restaurants are listed too, with surprise meals or grocery boxes containing bread, produce and products. Restaurants control the app via a portal and can turn it off for the day if they sell out.
Greenpointers can expect more options in Brooklyn and Queens in the coming months. “We look forward to expanding to all five boroughs and are excited to be a part of a positive movement that also helps advance New York City’s ambitious Zero Waste goals,” To Good To Go’s East Coast director Gaeleen Quinn said in September 2020.