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February 8, 2011 4:51 PM

19 Charles Street Brings Members-Only Eating to NYC

New gourmet grocery and farmer's market delivery service 19 Charles Street, which quietly launched last week, attempts to mimic what Gilt Groupe has done to fashion and e-commerce....

New gourmet grocery and farmer's market delivery service 19 Charles Street, which quietly launched last week, attempts to mimic what Gilt Groupe has done to fashion and e-commerce. 19charleslogo.JPG19charlesstreet.com will introduce four new recipes every Monday for the following week, differentiating itself from other food delivery services such as Fresh Direct by having members order specific meals rather than individual ingredients. Designated delivery days are Monday and Wednesday, and members have until Friday at 5 p.m. to place orders. Ingredients are gathered and packaged for delivery on the day of your choosing.

"All the work is done for you," co-founder Brandon Davis told WWD. "You just have to follow the recipes. We are more about simplifying. Everything comes in a reusable tote bag. There is no waste, it's a planet thing."

Brainchild of Davis and his wife, Dawn, the idea was conceived over the summer when Dawn went away for the weekend with several girlfriends. After picking up local produce during their travels, the women were in unison about their affinity for cooking, but all voiced a perennial problem: they never have the time to go out and buy the farm fresh ingredients their recipes call for.

This week's meals include peppercorn steak with wild mushroom sauce over garlic mashed potatoes; oven-fried chicken with turnip puree and sauteed collard greens; rabbit ragu with fresh pappardelle and a micro-green salad; and pan-seared scallops with wild rice and mâche salad with a lemon vinaigrette.

And if the $30 per serving price seems a little steep, Davis reasons that if two people wantedThumbnail image for scallops.JPG to go out for dinner - even inexpensively - there is the cab, wine and gratuities to think of. "It's probably the most affordable and the highest quality ingredients you can get for that specific meal. Everything is straight from the farmers market, straight from the suppliers at the farmer's market and it gets delivered the day of." It also helps that the average cooking time for each recipe is less than one hour.

The delivery service does bill itself as "members-only," and potential members need approval before gaining access to the site in order to maintain the unique quality of the service offered.

"We e-mailed 40 friends in the beginning and it spread that way, so it's kind of referral-based. We haven't rejected anyone yet," Davis said when asked the inevitable, what if you don't make the cut? "We are trying to maintain the exclusivity of it, though, rather than being like Amazon.com."

Orders are closely monitored, and since there's only a limited number of a certain dish, it might sell out. "It's a first come first, serve thing."
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