Tools to help you maintain a work-life balance

According to a recent study by TransAmerica, 80 percent of workers feel stressed at their job, and 25 percent of individuals report their job as the number one stressor in their lives. This causes an estimated one million people being absent from their jobs every day.

We live in an always-on culture. We check e-mails around the clock, teleconference co-workers three time zones away, and rack up hours far beyond the prescribed 40-hour workweek.

Unfortunately, it’s when we’re sitting at our desk, staring at an overflowing inbox that we’re left thinking, “I just wish I had one day to catch up.” Friday evening to Monday morning just never seems like enough time to run to the grocery store, pick up dry-cleaning, meal-prep for the week, and oh, I don’t know, relax a little?

If you constantly feel as though you can’t get ahead of your day-to-day demands, here are a few tools to help you do just that:

When you don’t have time to grocery shop:

Instacart is an on-demand grocery delivery service available in most major U.S. cities. Delivery fees are more than reasonable, and groceries are delivered to your residence within the hour. Many national grocer chains, such as Safeway and Giant Eagle also offer delivery services.

When you don’t have time for chores:

Whether you need your house cleaned, your walls painted, or your IKEA furniture assembled; Handy offers on-demand services for your home. Plus, they offer 24/7 customer service, so you can find cleaners when you’re in a pinch (i.e. when your in-laws drop-in unannounced).

When you don’t have time to meal-prep:

Sundays are better-spent watching football (or taking naps—we like naps) than creating five days worth of meals. When you don’t have time for your weekly meal-prep, ZeroCater delivers family-style meals to your office, using your favorite restaurants and food trucks in the city.

When you don’t have time for laundry:

When you don’t have time for the heaping loads of laundry (or would just prefer not to do it), Washio can help you out. They offer on-demand laundry and dry cleaning service, with next-day delivery.

When you’ve done all you can do, yet you’re still running late:

You’re running late, so you decide to skip the bus/subway/shuttle and drive instead. Traffic isn’t terrible, but when you arrive you waste all of your time trying to find parking. For those days, Zirx offers on-demand valet parking. They’ll park your car in a safe location until you need it again—at a rate typically cheaper than a garage. If you need an oil change or your tank is sitting on E, they’ll take care of that too.

How do you conquer your day-to-day tasks? What errands do you fight to keep up with? Tells us in the comments!

Vendor Spotlight: LaLe

You will never see a San Franciscan turn down the opportunity to enjoy a great brunch. On any given Sunday, in every neighborhood, there are one or two sections of sidewalk teeming with pedestrians, strollers and dogs. These hungry hordes will wait two hours to share a small table in a crowded restaurant—all this fuss for the same old basic brunch?

We say skip the crowded streets and head over to the Inner Sunset to enjoy one of the best brunch spots in the city, LaLe. Named after the Turkish word for tulip, LaLe owner Suzan Sarikurt draws from her Turkish-American heritage to create unique Mediterranean twists on American breakfast classics. Once seated at your table, you’ll notice the tulip influence goes beyond this restaurant’s name, with tulip wallpaper stretching towards their high rounded wood ceiling. In the far back of the restaurant, a large oven is concealed behind exposed brick, where homemade English muffins are baked daily, along with homemade jams and jellies.

Each item on LaLe’s brunch menu is inspired and named after different locations around the world. With scrambles, benedictions and more, choosing just one to enjoy will be the hardest decision you’ll make all weekend. From the Napa vegetarian scramble, to their Jerusalem corned beef hash eggs Benedict, there is something for every brunch goer.

The crowd favorite at LaLe is the ricotta stuffed French toast, so if you make your way to 731 Irving St., make sure at least one person in your party orders it. Served with fresh seasonal fruit, a generous portion of their famous orange butter, and a heated ramekin of maple syrup; this is one breakfast that will satiate even the biggest sweet tooth.

Oh and did we mention they serve orange and pomegranate mimosas?

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner stop by LaLe at 731 Irving St. Monday – Sunday; and Friday – Sunday for dinner.

ZeroCater Employee Spotlight: Elaine Liu

As a part of our on-going series of employee spotlights we are recognizing the company value for September, Create Delight. Food is personal, brought in part by the people and service that go with it. We are obsessed with our customers, and make them our number one priority.

Name: Elaine Liu

Hometown: New York City

Job Title: Client Success Coordinator

What that means that I do every day: Besides the everyday duties of answering emails, fulfilling requests, slotting meals and putting out fires, I make sure my clients are happy and fed at the end of the day. Any issue that arises, I am their go-to person, there to make their lives easier—kind-of like a “food-life coach” of sorts.

Favorite food: Tripe! Organ meats! It’s my absolute favorite, and my dad makes it the best. Oh, and seedless grapes. I can eat those by the pound.

Favorite cocktail: I don’t drink a lot—everyone knows I’d be just as happy with a cup of hot water (hold the lemon). When I do, I prefer a Nonino amaro on the rocks, a nice amaretto sour shaken with egg white to make it all frothy, or a glass of sparkling wine.

My favorite thing about lunch: Besides the actual eating? I like trying out all the vendors we have available. That way, when our clients ask specific questions or request a specific cuisine, I can pull from my experience and send them the best! It’s kind of like delicious research. We eat FOR our clients.

Favorite restaurant: Hong Kong Clay Pot Place or Ryoko’s

My most memorable dining experience of all time is: My best friend and I making Thanksgiving dinner for the first time over Thanksgiving break in college. We had never had a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner with our families, so we just decided to make our own at her parents’ apartment. We bought cranberry sauce in a can, made lumpy mashed potatoes and Stove Top stuffing, and roasted a chicken because a turkey wouldn’t fit in the oven. Her parents ignored us and made an additional dinner (rice, veggies and tofu) and we had a American-Chinese hybrid dinner of sorts.

My dream celebrity dinner date: Alive–Louis CK, Ellen Degeneres, Amy Schumer, Blake Lively because she is my woman crush, or The Rock because he is my man crush. Dead­­–River Phoenix, Aliyah, Selena, or Joan Rivers.

Why I love ZeroCater: Because I’ve met a lot of wonderful people here who make it worthwhile to come into work everyday. And they don’t judge me for eating like a crazy mofo. At least I don’t think they do. #realtalk

Twenty Local Businesses Have Made Over a Million Dollars on ZeroCater

One of the best things about working at ZeroCater is hearing the amazing stories of our restaurant owners. These people share a passion for food, and come from all walks of life. They’re refugees who arrived in America without a dime to their name, Fortune 500 company execs who left their lucrative jobs to pursue a labor of love, or former engineers who dream of starting the next Chipotle.

Our partners are the heart and soul of our business. That’s why we’re proud to announce 20 separate small business owners have done over one million dollars of business with ZeroCater.

These are people like Fumie Ito, a self-taught chef and mother of three who runs a successful, one-woman catering company called Sweet and Natural.

“ZeroCater has really helped my sales. We get orders everyday, which is not easy to do if you’re on your own. It’s also been very helpful that ZeroCater handles the customer service, menu planning, and payment. That lets me focus on cooking and running my business. “

Fumie Ito

They’re people like Levon Der Bedrossian, who started La Méditeranée in 1979.  Based on Armenian and Lebanese family recipes, La Méditeranée has been consistently voted “Best Middle Eastern” and “Best Mediterranean” in the Guardian and SF Weekly. Today the restaurant is run by Levan’s son, Vanick.

“We have now delivered thousands of orders through ZeroCater. It has been a privilege for our team at la Mediterranee to serve both large and small companies, and grow our business alongside with them.”

La Méditeranée

They’re people like Richard and Pamela Park, a husband and wife team who met in culinary school. Both grew up with a love of country barbeque, which inspired them to open their popular restaurant, CatHeads BBQ in the South of Market Area of San Francisco.

“We started to work with ZeroCater when we were just a pop-up and have continued for several years. Our partnership has been really successful. They send us to multiple clients each day, then those clients inturn come into our restaurant. We have grown so much and are thankful for this partnership.”

Catheads BBQ

ZeroCater has focused on supporting local small business from the beginning. Not only are these individuals a pleasure to work with, but they bring a greater sense of craftsmanship to what they produce. We admire what they bring to the local economy, and are thrilled to play a part in their success.

Tools To Keep in Touch With Your Satellite Offices

In the past two years, ZeroCater has gone from a stand-alone, San Francisco-based start-up, to a company spread across four U.S. cities. Is it exciting to be part of such rapid growth? Yes, definitely. Does it come with a few challenges? Absolutely.

With 100 employees spread across three different time zones, it can be easy to let projects, notices, and priorities fall through the cracks. One of our company values is talk to customers, but we could easily add a memorandum to include talk to teammates to ensure we are properly addressing our priorities while expanding to new markets. Open communication is vital not only to project management and efficiency, but to the overall wellbeing and morale of employees company-wide.

When expanding to new markets, it’s important to keep all remote offices tied to headquarters. This keeps a synergy between the corporate brand and the brand at the local level. In addition, it allows remote offices to have access to upper management, and ensures all voices are heard—no matter where that voice may be originating.

To insure open communication at your company, here are a few of our favorite tools to connect headquarters with our satellite offices:

For project management:

  • Asana – Asana combines tasks, projects, and priorities without relying on email. Teams can break down large-scale projects into individual to-dos, and then assign various tasks.
  • Trello – Extremely simple to use, Trello organizes projects into lists filled with cards. Track the progress of a task through the project life cycle (Ideas, To-Do, Doing, Done!) and see what your whole team is working on.
  • IDoneThis – IdoneThis is the easiest way to track the progress and productivity of your team. Write a to-do list each day, and then check your progress over the course of a day, week, or month.

For communication:

  • Hipchat – Hipchat provides group and private messaging for teams. Ping users to ask questions, share files, and collaborate—no matter where you are in the world.
  • Slack – A messaging app for team collaboration, Slack uses hashtags to follow and search for discussions across your organization.
  • Yammer – Yammer is a private social network for businesses. Create groups, share projects, and easily join discussions.

For brainstorming:

  • Realtime Board – Realtime Board is your regular whiteboard, re-thought to be used online. Draw, sketch, or post sticky-notes to share ideas.
  • Aww: Aww is a web whiteboard that lets you immediately start sketching out your ideas. Simply invite team members to your board to start collaborating.
  • Twiddla: You don’t need to sign up to use Twiddla, which allows you to share websites, start meetings, or whiteboard on a blank canvas.

For presenting:

  • GoToMeeting: GoToMeeting allows screen sharing, video conferencing, and even webinar recording.
  • me: is incredibly easy to use—share your screen instantly with your team during team meetings, with no downloads required.
  • Swipe: Swipe allows you to turn any PDF into an interactive presentation. Teammates can view, ask questions, and respond to polls on any device.

What are your favorite tools to keep in touch with your remote workforce? Tell us in the comments!



Vendor Spotlight: Brother Baby’s BBQ

Brother Baby’s BBQ was recently awarded Vendor of the Month at ZeroCater. Just a year into business, this Milpitas food truck has wowed our clients with their authentic smoked meats, homemade sauces, and signature side dishes. Keep reading for how partners John and Ray got started, where they learned to cook, and what they have planned for the future!

Be sure to catch-up with Brother Baby’s BBQ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find out where they’re headed next!

How did the business get started?

We started in September of 2014, with our grand opening in October. I hold a business degree, but was out of work at the time. My friend of over 20 years is a culinary genius, and was really into BBQ. He said to me, “What about a food truck?” I wasn’t getting any offers, so I said, “Let’s go for it!”

Where did you get the inspiration for your truck?

We chose BBQ because there isn’t a lot of good BBQ in our area. We started eating everywhere that served it. We saw a pattern: A place would have good baby back ribs, but the brisket wasn’t as good. The sides always seemed to be an afterthought, always lacking. We thought, “Hm. Not only do we want to do good BBQ, but we want to put our energy into signature sides.” We wanted to give people multiple reasons to come back.

Where did you learn to cook?

I learned from my business partner, Ray. He’s just one of those people who has been cooking all his life.

He smoked all the meats in the beginning, but now I smoke them from beginning to end. We have a staff that helps with food prep, and Ray makes all the recipes and trains the staff.

What’s your favorite dish on your menu?

Brisket is definitely the most popular. My personal favorite is the mac n’ cheese. The hot link sandwich and brisket sandwich are awesome too. If you had to pick one thing, you have to go with the baby back ribs—and I eat them without the sauce.

No sauce!?

There’s a misconception that BBQ means sauce, but BBQ refers to smoked meats. We started with a Carolina style, vinegar-based sauce—that was intended to be our thing. We quickly realized people were used to a thicker, sweeter version. So, we created a California style sauce, and provide a hot and mild version for both.

Where do you find inspiration for new dishes? Or decide what goes on your menu?

In the beginning, we just gave the people what they wanted. We didn’t have mac n’ cheese, then people started asking for it. We’ve expanded our offering sto include vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan dishes. We just put a new vegan, gluten-free veggie burger on the menu, and it’s served on vegan bread.

We also find inspiration from family and friends. When we first started I told Ray, “My Family has a potato recipe we have to put on the menu.” We ended up creating our own version, and now my relatives think our recipe is better than the family recipe.

Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting in the food truck or restaurant business?

We launched in October, and had very dark days in December and January. We started at the end of the season, which was both a bad and good time to start. If you go to an event with 100 people, you need to know what you’re doing. We’ve completely changed how we do things in the past year, resulting in lower ticket times and a wider menu.

Next, I would tell them to put efforts into catering right away. It takes time to get traction in the food truck business. It may take six months to a year to get good food truck stops or large-scale events. Look at catering right away as a second revenue stream. Our first tasting with ZeroCater was at one of our stops, they loved the food, and we’ve been working with you ever since.

In college, did you ever think you would end up in the food truck business? And what are you looking forward to in the future?

You know what’s funny? I literally said, “I will NEVER go into the restaurant business.” For one, you have to right all the time. If you serve 50 people who are happy with their meal, and number 51 is not, that is the one who will be vocal. We look at all negative reviews, and make adjustments in order to improve. Our sides, particularly our coleslaw and potato salad, never sit in sauce—they’re cut, tossed, and served fresh off the truck. We once tried prepping them ahead, until someone said, “You know what? Something’s different here.” The recipe was the same, but the timing had changed. Now, people say, “This is the potato salad I’ve ever had!”

In the future, I look forward to cooking for friends and family. Since we’re just a year old, we’re rarely away from the truck. I was never one to cook, but everything we serve, I’ve made: eggplant, mac n’ cheese, and all the meats. So, I look forward to the day when I can wow my family with my knowledge.

Catering to People with Food Allergies in the Workplace

Food allergies affect 15 million Americans, a number which appears to be on the rise. Additionally, an increasing amount of individuals choose to avoid certain foods due to personal or religious beliefs.

Dining out can pose a risk for those with food allergies. Every three minutes someone is hospitalized due to an allergic reaction. Every six minutes, this is caused by an anaphylactic reaction—a life-threatening response accompanied by rash, increased heart rate, nausea, swelling of the nose and throat, and even loss of consciousness.

Understandably so, this is something affected individuals would rather not deal with (or worry about) inside their home or work environment. No one particularly enjoys having to turn down the office birthday cake, or ask, “Does this contain xyz?” each company lunch. The alternative just doesn’t leave them with much choice.

To ensure employees with food allergies feel welcome, comfortable, and of course, safe at work, be sure to take these precautionary measures:

  1. Ask each employee if he/she has any food allergies or special diet requests upon hire.

What’s the point of bringing bagels and coffee to celebrate a new hire, if the new employee turns out to be gluten-free? Ask for all food allergens, intolerances, and preferences on the employee’s first day, if not before.

  1. Keep your team’s dietary information readily available.

How many times have you placed an order at a restaurant, only to think, “I forgot to ask for no [blank]!” just moments later? No matter how many times you place an order with a catering company, you need to communicate all dietary restrictions. At ZeroCater, we store dietary information on your company dashboard. This prevents miscommunications with vendors, and eliminates the hassle of reiterating special requests.

Dietary restrictions

  1. Understand the common allergens, and hidden names of each.

Eight foods account for 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions. These include dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. Unfortunately, allergens can hide in the most inconspicuous places, and you need to know what questions to ask. For example, gluten is found in soy sauce, couscous, wheat, barley, rye, and beer; and hides in soup, fried foods, and sauces, which may have flour added.

  1. Take precautions to avoid cross-contamination.

We’ve heard the horror stories of a severe peanut reaction caused by skin contact or inhalation. To avoid cross contamination, we only order from vendors who know how to properly prepare, package, and transport food free from allergens. Food must be cooked with clean utensils, packed in separate containers, and never come into contact with an allergen.

  1. Carefully label each dish, noting ingredients, allergens, and animal protein

To avoid cross-contamination, and to respect those who do not eat meat for religious or personal reasons, all dishes must be properly labeled. At ZeroCater, our labels note seven of the eight common allergens (we account for shellfish, but not all seafood). In addition, we have dietary filters for vegan, vegetarian, and pork.

ZeroCater Nutrition Labels

  1. Remind your team to update on any changes in diet.

Allergies can develop at any point during one’s lifetime. Create a system where employees can easily make changes to their dietary information.

We work with each restaurant on our platform to collect ingredient and dietary information. If you ever have any questions on a particular dish or food, our Client Success team is happy to answer them!

Chicago: Are you an Office Elite? Meetup with us!

You’re an office master, jumping from task to task and attacking your job with a silent tenacity. When the office needs something last minute, you swoop in and save the day. You are the glue that holds everything together.

You are a member of the Office Elite, and we have created a Meetup just for you. The “Office Elite Meetup” is a new resource specifically geared toward office managers and human resource professionals.

There are an unlimited number of ways you can bring a team together, and we know food is just one of them. We wanted to create a community where you can exchange ideas on event planning, team culture, and how to make the office a vibrant, motivating place to work.

Thursday, September 24: The Office Elite Meetup agenda:

  • 5.30pm-6pm: Welcome to the Office Elite Meetup! Enjoy food provided by Dawali Mediterranean Kitchen powered by ZeroCater, and drinks provided by Drizly and WeWork. Have a few drinks and snacks, mingle with your peers, or tour the WeWork River North space.
  • 6pm-6.15pm: Meetup begins.
  • 6.15pm-6.45pm: Q & A time. What’s the most creative themed office party you’ve thrown? What icebreakers do you use for new hires? Have you been brainstorming any fun employee perks? Share your best ideas!
  • 6.45-7pm+: Networking time.
  • Post-Meetup: We’ll email you a feedback survey to help craft future Meetups, announce our contest winner, and keep you in the loop as we near the next Office Elite Meetup.

We will be fostering discussions on: workplace hacks, networking opportunities, and trends in employee benefits. Do unlimited snacks at work sound like a perk you’d like to pitch to your boss? How can you convince your team to keep their payroll information up-to-date? Do you need a specific license to offer alcoholic beverages? Would an office pool table really bring your co-workers together? Do you think the company would take part in Jersey Fridays during football season? No matter your question, idea, or area of concern may be, you’re sure to collaborate with like-minded individuals at the Office Elite Meetup.

Check out the Office Elite Meetup for full details, view the Meetup agenda, RSVP to the event, and begin networking.

We’ll be raffling off these giveaways at the event:



The Cure for the Common Coffee Shop: Vive La Tarte

At the counter of any coffee shop, you can find a small glass display case with two or three types of pastries to have with your morning cup of coffee. In the heart of SOMA (South of Market Area), Vive La Tarte is breaking this status quo and putting our focus back on what really matters: quality, fresh ingredients. From delicious and seasonal tarts to savory California inspired pizzas, husband and wife Arnaud Goethals and Julie Vandermeersch have created a culinary experience unlike anything in San Francisco.

When you first walk into their new space at Howard and 7th, you are greeted with the aroma of sweet and savory quiche, tarts and pastries. Next, you notice the perfect balance between the custom wood seating areas, and a stainless steel kitchen spanning the back half of the room. Here, traditional Belgian techniques are paired with modern flavors to create a welcomed twist on classic baked goods. Separating its patrons from the confectionary is an enormous wooden counter where each item is displayed, allowing their customers to choose exactly which pastry they would like to indulge in. You can start your day off with a savory quiche made with broccoli, fennel, applewood-smoked bacon, and swiss cheese. If you are craving something a little sweeter, you can try their take on cheesecake, which incorporates a traditional Belgium spiced biscuit as the base for it’s crust.

As focused on food as these two are, they also serve a San Francisco favorite, Sightglass Coffee. You can grab a cup of drip or espresso from the friendly barista standing behind their large and beautiful vintage espresso machine.

If you haven’t already, stop by Tuesday-Saturday and try the unique culinary experience that is Vive La Tarte!

Chicago’s Famous Food Staples

From the beautiful Chicago River, ‘love-them-or-hate-them’ sports teams, beautiful skyscrapers, and jam-packed summers, Chicago is a great city for many things. Chicagoans have much to be proud of, but it’s the food scene that takes things to another level.

Exactly what is Chicago’s most iconic dish, anyway? We searched high and low for Chicago’s top food staples — interviewing restaurants, talking to co-workers, and speaking with our clients. We’ve narrowed it down it down to the top three contenders, ranked by popularity. Finally, we’ve listed out our favorite local hotspots to go chow down!

  1. The Italian Beef Sandwich
  • Thinly shaved roast beef
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Sweet Or Hot Peppers
  • Au Jus gravy (The Juice)
  • Dipped, Wet, or Dry

Not to be confused with a French dip, the Italian Beef is a staple hot sandwich. With no definitive origin, there are a handful of theories around the rise of this infamous sandwich. The most widely accepted theories involve the desire to take a rougher cut of meat, shave it razor thin, add juices and spices, and make a tasty, hearty meal out of it. Chicagoans generally agree that the juicer the sandwich, the better. And most will argue that sweet or hot peppers are a must have. Often served with a side of ‘Au Jus’, this juice is really the part of the sandwich that brings it all together (or in our case, makes the sandwich literally fall apart).

Our personal favorite Italian Beef joints can be found at: Portillo’s, Al’s Beef, Buona Beef, Johnny’s Beef (a ZeroCater Italian Beef catering favorite), Jay’s beef, and many, MANY more.

  1. Chicago Style Hot Dogs
  • Beef
  • Poppy-seed bun
  • Yellow mustard
  • White onion
  • Sweet pickle relish with mint
  • Sport peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Kosher dill pickle spear
  • Celery salt

Chicago Style Hot Dog

The Chicago Style Hot Dog has been a topic of much controversy. Notice how ketchup is not on the list? Ketchup has long been a taboo topping for hot dogs in the city of Chicago, and there are many different reasons why. Ketchup on a hot dog is considered disrespectful and bad etiquette.

There are hundreds of places in Chicago to grab a hot dog in many styles, but our favorites are: Portillo’s, Jimmy’s Red Hots, Superdawg, Johnny O’s, Wiener Circle, Franks ‘n’ Dawgs, Johnny’s Beef, Allium, and more.

  1. Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza
  • Bottom layer: DEEP crust
  • Middle layer: Copious amounts of cheese
  • Top layer: Chunky tomato sauce
  • Additional layers: Any topping you’d like

Chicago Style Pizza

Deep Dish Pizza is practically synonymous with Chicago. You really cannot discuss the Chicago food scene without discussing this unique pie. Yet another mixed origins story, we can pretty much agree that Pizzeria Uno started it all. Small differences include chunky or non-chunky sauce, buttered, cornmeal or even caramelized crust, and toppings under or on top of the pizza (often called ‘stuffed’). What most people don’t realize is that one slice is usually enough, so leftovers are often in order. Whether you’re visiting the city or just looking for a hearty meal, you can’t go wrong with pizza in Chicago —it’s science.

Each time a top list of pizza places in Chicago gets published, it’s followed by uproars of disagreement. You can debate on who takes the crown, but here are our picks: Giordano’s, Lou Malnati’s, Pizzeria Uno, Pequod’s, Gino’s East, Pizano’s, The Art Of Pizza, Burt’s Place, and more.

What’s your favorite Chicago food staple? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us @Zerocater!