Nothing beats meeting friends for drinks, dinner, or coffee at your favorite hangout. But if you’re still scared of getting Covid, or it’s impractical to meet in one location due to distance or bad traffic, there’s a cool option for online meet-ups. And we’re not talking Zoom or Google Meet—what is this, 2020?
We’re talking meeting up on metaverse, that virtual reality space where people can interact. Think online game Restaurant City, where you get to meet and socialize with friends, order real food, and have it delivered in your real home. The online platform, launched Wednesday, is called Kraverse which is pronounced, aptly, as crave-vers. The captain of the ship is successful food biz guy Eric Thomas Dee, COO of FooDee Global Concepts, known for bringing Michelin star brands such as Tim Ho Wan and Hawker Chan to the country.
Currently, there are five food brands at the Kraverse virtual food hall. There’s CharSilog, which is the food company’s modern take on the classic Filipino silog meals. They have Garlic-Ginger-Scallion Fried Rice and your choice of Pork Belly, Ribs, or Chicken.
Krave's offerings are based on seasonal food trends like the Kimchi Bulgogi Bake (bulgogi beef served over kimchi rice with cheese). It also serves dishes perfect for sharing, like their signature group meal of Tomato Rice with BBQ Pork Belly, Lechon Baka, and Roasted Chicken served with gravy, a sesame slaw, and atchara.
I Love You Stew, meanwhile, uses a personal recipe inspired by Eric’s favorite Korean restaurants in Los Angeles. This food brand serves two variations of Galbi Jjim: regular and spicy.
Then there’s Jok Time Lugaw which delivers our local congee in a self-heating container. Apparently, lugaw in Korean is Juk, in Thai it’s Jok, and in Chinese it’s Jook, hence the brand name. The team’s favorite ‘Joke of the Month’ comes with every order.
The fourth Kraverse brand is Gravy’d, which promises to bring “sizzling” types of food to your home, with gravy on the side—the self-heating containers will take care of giving it the necessary sizzle. You can also order drinks from its beverage brand called Insani-tea.
You have the option to order from the above-mentioned food brands via Grab but if you’re game to explore this fun online ordering platform, just create an account on the Kraverse app and design your avatar. Once you enter the virtual space, a receptionist will be on hand from 10AM onwards to take your orders. You should be able to receive your orders within 30 to 45 minutes depending on your location, says Eric.
As mentioned earlier, with Kraverse, you can hang out with your friends and officemates in any of its virtual food hall areas. Like in Zoom, the app has a video feature so you can talk and see your buddies face to face. If you’re the shy type, or just not in the mood to show yourself to people, you can opt to communicate via the chatbox.
Eric says they are planning to host regular activities in each of the rooms. You can play poker with other users, or watch singing performances. Next week, Jok Time Lugaw will have a standup comic so customers could have a laugh while eating or waiting for their orders. If you want a more chill space, you could head over to the riverside where you could hear waves crashing.
Why create a metaverse
“As a cloud kitchen, it’s like we don’t exist,” Eric tells ANCX. “So the intention is to physicalize this space.”
Being in brick-and-mortar spaces for a number of years now, Eric says he knows about paying great attention to details—from food to plates to seating. With Kraverse, he intends to bring back the value proposition in the food delivery business. “It’s not just delivering food placed in a microwaveable container. We really put a lot of thought into our packaging, which is also our way to communicate with our consumers,” he says.
The idea is to offer something innovative and out of the ordinary. “We set trends rather than follow. We want to stand out,” he says, adding that Kraverse is the first metaverse online ordering platform in the Philippines. And working with him in the Kraverse project are accomplished names in their respective industries: Victor Lim (formerly from Zalora, Coins.ph), Victor Mapua (former finance exec at HSBC). Also in the Kraverse core group are Brian Cu (founder of Grab Philippines), Paulo Campos (cofounder of Zalora), Chris Po (president and CEO of Century Pacific Group), George Pua (president of Meat Concepts Corp.), and Lance Gokongwei (president and CEO of the Robinsons Group).
In the coming months, expect to see new food brands on Kraverse. One is D. Wade Burger, which is a way for NBA Hall of Famer Dwayne Wade to connect to his Filipino fans. “He allowed us to create a burger exclusive to the Philippine market. We’re calling it the Manila burger, which consists of lechon baka on top of a smash burger,” he says. Fans should watch for the merch signed by the NBA star that they will be giving away when the restaurant launches next month.
Eric is also in talks with US-based Fil-Am chefs and Singaporean food companies who would like to introduce their brands to Filipino gourmands via the Kraverse cloud kitchen. This is a more practical way to test the market than doing pop-ups, says Eric.
So far, Kraverse has 10 kitchens all over Metro Manila and four more kitchens will be built this year. They have two kitchens in San Fernando and Angeles, Pampanga. They will be opening soon in Cebu. “By end of 2022, we’ll have a total 20 kitchens,” he says.
What’s great about doing business on metaverse is that he’s not limited to a certain number of square meters, says Eric. “On metaverse, the space is infinite,” he adds. And so is the growth of their food business.