October 29, 2020

Los Gatos High alum pick familiar Locale for food delivery business

Classmates Chris Clark and Jonathan Friedland lobbed a watermelon off a cliff at Castle Rock State Park for a physics project during their junior year at Los Gatos High in 2014, but who knew they’d be reunited by fruit again someday?

When the pandemic hit last March, the recent college graduates found themselves back home living with their parents. After Clark, who grew up tagging along to farmer’s markets with his foodie mother, Cynthia, noticed a line wrapped around Manresa Bread whenever he drove by, inspiration struck. What about the more vulnerable people who were afraid to leave their homes during the shelter-in-place and were deprived of their favorite things, he wondered? Friedland had a similar epiphany when contemplating the sticker shock of sending his mom flowers on Mother’s Day.

If people wanted flowers delivered, the friends mused, they probably wanted other things, too. They hit on the idea for Locale, a customizable delivery service that curates and delivers specialty items from high-quality local farms and small businesses.

In the beginning, Clark, 22, and Friedland, 23, partnered with two vendors, offering bimonthly delivery of organic berries and sourdough baguettes from—you guessed it—Manresa Bread. Word quickly spread, and Clark and Friedland stepped up their hustle, adding more vendor partners. In early July, Locale pivoted to weekly delivery. Since starting four months ago with just 20 customers, the company now delivers to several hundred customers in the South Bay including Los Gatos, San Jose, Saratoga, Campbell, Cupertino, Santa Clara, Mountain View and Los Altos. The co-founders brought two other business partners, Kaveh Nemati and Avto Grigolia, aboard to help with growth and design respectively. Fifteen drivers were also hired to keep up with the demand.

Chris Clark, co-owner of Locale, makes a delivery to Amy Carroll of Los Gatos. Clark and Los Gatos High School classmate Jonathan Friedland started their customizable delivery service four months ago with just 20 customers; the company now delivers to several hundred customers in the South Bay. (Courtesy photo) 

Locale maintains that selectivity sets the company apart from competitors. “Every vendor we bring onto the platform is the best of the best,” said Clark. “We try to have only one of any food item. Right now, consumers are experiencing choice overload. Our aim is to keep it super simple for our customers.”

Locale has curated a manageable yet mouthwatering list of items. Along with organic fruit and produce, customers can choose from small-batch, hand-milled pasta from San Francisco-based Bayview, decadent tarts from Fleur de Cocoa, organic cage-free eggs, local honey, Los Gatos Coffee Roasting coffee, flowers from Bunches and more. Products are personally picked up by Locale employees from purveyors on the morning of delivery to ensure freshness.

While Clark and Friedland have pounded the Bay Area pavement pitching potential local businesses, David Cohen, chef and co-owner of Oren’s Hummus, was one business owner who reached out to them. “When I picked up the phone, I expected to talk to, respectfully, people who were a lot older and had a much more established business,” Cohen recalled with a laugh.

That Clark and Friedland were neophytes with freshly inked college diplomas impressed the seasoned restaurateur even more. “I said, ‘Wow, you guys are a couple of kids doing something cool.’”

Locale began carrying Oren’s top three sellers—authentic Israeli hummus, pita and eggplant babaganoush—and has since expanded to offer its entire retail line. When asked whether the partnership has been advantageous, Cohen said, “In the age of COVID, everything helps. We’ve only been on their platform a couple weeks, and we’re already starting to see some nice revenue.”

Cohen has himself become of a fan of Locale’s services. “As a consumer, I like it. Super delicious; the products arrive fresh and clean.”

Amy Carroll of Los Gatos seconds Cohen’s enthusiasm. “I love how everything is sourced from just a stone’s throw from my house,” she said. “It feels great to eat locally and seasonally.”

As opposed to some farm-to-door-boxes that only deliver produce, Carroll can create an entire meal from Locale’s variety of prepared goods. “When I get my box on Saturday, I make avocado toast with tomato and hummus. By the way, their avocados from Brokaw Ranch? Best I’ve ever tasted. And the hummus is next level,” said Carroll.

The only downside, she joked, is that Locale has made her lazy. “Driving all the way downtown to Oren’s from my house is just too much.”

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