Delivery-only restaurants, which have proliferated during the pandemic, could change the way the industry does business for years to come

SunsetSunset Squares Pizza has fewer than 1,000 followers on Instagram. Delivery in its neighborhood — San Francisco’s Sunset district — costs $5, while those farther afield in the city pay $10. There’s a handful of pizzas and nondairy focaccia options on the menu, a couple salads, and a dessert. The dough is made from sourdough and a wild yeast starter, and the pies are, of course, square. What started as a pandemic-era baking project between a father and his teen daughters this spring has now turned into a viable business operation: Three or four pizzas a week to friends grew as word of mouth spread; the Instagram posts and tags followed.

The difference between Sunset Squares and, say, your neighbor slinging pizzas from his garage and selling them on Instagram is that this business was started by a notable San Francisco chef with several restaurants of his own. He remains purposefully anonymous for now.

“San Francisco is a really small food community. That has certain advantages but also has disadvantages. In many ways it’s hurt the development of restaurants and new food ideas,” says the chef. “At the end of the day, especially with certain cuisines, if you don’t come from a lauded Michelin pedigree, food journalists and the general community — because San Francisco has shifted and morphed into this elitist consumer market — just want to follow brand recognition versus thinking on their own what they think is good food or not.”

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