Too Good To Go app launches in Chicago; helps people buy food that’s too good to waste

The app already has 1 million U.S. users. Its goal is to reduce food waste by selling “surprise bags” from restaurants, bakeries, and other stores that have food left over at the end of each day.

SHARE Too Good To Go app launches in Chicago; helps people buy food that’s too good to waste
Liberation Donuts, 2054 W. Grand Ave. in West Town, photographed on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.

Liberation Donuts, 2054 W. Grand Ave. in West Town, is among the local restaurants and food shops that will offer discounted food to consumers through the Too Good To Go app, which launches Wednesday in Chicago. Users of the app can order a bag of food that otherwise would have been tossed out at the end of the day.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

When Liberation Donuts opened last year as Chicago’s first vegan-owned donut shop, food waste was a larger problem than they expected. At the end of each day, they would have about two dozen donuts with nowhere to go.

“We tell our staffs to take donuts home and give it to their friends,” said Natalie Slater, Liberation’s marketing manager. “But there are only so many donuts we can make our staff eat.”

Now Liberation Donuts and around 100 other restaurants will be able to sell their excess food at a discount, thanks to the app Too Good To Go, which launches in Chicago on Wednesday.

The app, which already has over 1 million U.S. users, helps people find that leftover food that restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores want to sell off at the end of each day.

“I think this city is really ready for a solution that is going to help consumers fight food waste while helping local stores that have been struggling so much already,” said Lucie Basch, co-founder of Too Good To Go.

Through the app, consumerscan buy a surprise bag from restaurants near them and pick it up at the end of the day. It costs $4 to $6, but always be less than the value of the food in the bag, Basch said.

“The food you get on Too Good To Go is food that would have been sold full price just 10 minutes earlier,” she said.

The Chicago expansion took little time, Basch said; Too Good To Go started reaching out to businesses about three weeks ago.

Basch called the response from local restaurants amazing so far, as it both gets their name out there and also lets them make money off the fresh food they would’ve thrown out anyway.

Donuts in the racks for boxing at Liberation Donuts, 2054 W. Grand Ave. in West Town, Tuesday, July 13, 2021.

Liberation Donuts opened in September at 2054 W. Grand Ave. Owners found themselves throwing away about two dozen donuts at the end of each day, despite sending extras home with employees. “We tell our staffs to take donuts home and give it to their friends,” said Natalie Slater, Liberation’s marketing manager. “But there are only so many donuts we can make our staff eat.” Now, it can sell some of those leftovers through the Too Good To Go app.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

In early testing of the app, Liberation Donuts has both reduced their food waste and gained new customers, Slater said.

The experience has been similar at Deep Purpl, which sells acai bowls and fresh fruit, said Gabriel Fleury, Deep Purpl’s founder and CEO.

“We got very excited about doing something to actually solve a big problem that we had, which is wasting food,” Fleury said. “Now we can monetize a little from it too, without a complete loss.”

Through the app, Deep Purpl sells delivery orders that have been canceled as well as bags of fresh fruit. Fleury said generally three to four orders a day are canceled or never picked up at each of its three Chicago locations.

Deep Purpl’s Wicker Park location, 1375 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Deep Purpl’s Wicker Park location, 1375 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Following the Chicago launch, Too Good To Go hopes to go national as soon as possible, Basch said.

“In five years, we launched in 15 countries in Europe and saved 80 million meals from the trash. Now we want to make the US even bigger than Europe in rapid time.”

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