By Sade Howell

AJ Shrestha, a Rolla native, wanted to merge his passions of food and programming when he created the website KwikDish is a marketplace platform that connects customers to local restaurants and home cooks. This platform keeps the customer in mind by leading them to discover and eat unique, fresh, and healthy foods at a reasonable price.

KwikDish wants to support local restaurants and cooks by providing them with a free platform to promote their business and customers who are ready to eat. A customer can purchase a pre-paid meal plan, put in their order for the next day, and the restaurant will have it waiting for them at their convenience.

“There are a lot of local restaurants and cooks, from food trucks to farmers’ markets, and we want to give them a voice, a platform where people can try their food,” AJ says. “The website was created from the mindset of keeping things sustainable and supporting the local community.”

On average, it costs about $200,000 to start a restaurant, and with the KwikDish platform, people can test start their food business without making that commitment. “Instead of having a physical store, they have a digital store,” AJ says. “Uploading a menu only takes a few minutes and then KwikDish publishes their menu the next day.”

KwikDish’s app will launch in Mid-Missouri in June. Their app will continue to use their customer-set pre-paid plans so that customers can continue spending as low as $6.00 on a meal, rather than the 70 percent mark-up other delivery apps provide. This app will focus on local restaurants in the Columbia and Jefferson City areas. “About 10 restaurants have agreed to be on the platform so far,” AJ says. “We have a range of choices, from high-end restaurants to burger joints and smaller restaurants.”

The community focus is an important part of KwikDish’s ethos and business plan. “The emphasis is on the community — we want to make the pricing very attractive to customers, especially college kids and big employers,” AJ says. “We’ll also be able to provide analytics for restaurants of who their customers are, which gives them actionable intelligence they might not be able to get otherwise.”

With the app, people can order tomorrow’s lunch today, and businesses can know in advance exactly what they need to make and when people will be coming in to pick it up. AJ hopes to engage even more customers to help them find the local and fresh food they’re looking for. He says, “We think other tools are focused on helping one side of the equation, but we believe we’ve created a platform at KwikDish that truly resonates with all parties in the equation.”

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