What A Surprise

Munchery Sweeps Garbage Under the Rug

Ever since Uptown Almanac first reported that Munchery was storing food in refrigerated trucks on the street—obstructing traffic and idling those trucks in the process—the dinner delivery startup has been quick to change their practices. They’ve stopped illegally idling trucks at all hours and began parking the trucks further away from their facilities. They’ve even cleaned up the rotting food from the sidewalk and street. We’ve walked by and noticed the changes ourselves.

But when our story was picked up by other news outlets, Munchery was forced to publicly respond. And respond they did: Munchery’s CEO published a blog post saying the company only occasionally received street sweeping tickets and never idled their trucks. This is simply not true.

The blog post by Munchery CEO and co-founder Tri Tran made the following claims:

3. Are your truck engines left idling throughout the day?
No. In compliance with state law, our trucks’ engines are never left idling. Because these trucks are loaded with chilled food ahead of delivery, we run the refrigeration units while they are loading (the units turn on and off automatically to keep the temperature at a level which is food-safe). These units, which are mounted on top of trucks, operate independently of the trucks’ primary engine. This is permitted under state law.

4. Why do Munchery’s trucks receive parking tickets?
At times, we have failed to move our trucks during street cleaning. We’re working hard to make sure this doesn’t happen again and understand this is a serious issue.

These statements, while sounding good on their face, do not correspond to the facts. Let’s address them individually.

First, Munchery claims their trucks were “never left idling.” This directly conflicts with what Uptown Almanac observed (on repeated occasions) outside their facility. Munchery’s claim also directly contradicts numerous statements made by individuals not affiliated with this blog. For example, someone tweeted that their husband observed the trucks running on Monday:

It is important to note that this tweet came after our publication, but before the story got picked up by outlets like SFist, Eater, and Valleywag. In other words, before the story began generating real pressure on Munchery to change their practices.

We received numerous emails from neighbors confirming our original report, and thanking Uptown Almanac for writing it. While they all asked to remain anonymous, here is one typical example:

Thanks for your November 9th article about Munchery in the Uptown Almanac. This business has had a huge negative impact on our neighborhood. Thanks for pointing out that the refrigerated trucks are being used to store food, not transport it.

Uptown Almanac has also obtained a copy of a complaint sent to the Planning Department on October 16th, which also reported idling trucks:

[Munchery has] six trucks running or generators running all the time.  Their entire dispatch delivery department is on the sidewalk and street.

That is negatively effecting every other business in this area […]

All day and through 7pm.  Six big trucks with motors and generators running. 

This complaint also contradicts Tran’s statement that Munchery “always turn[s] [the trucks] off by 6pm.”

And then there are the statements left in the comments section of the original report. One commenter writes:

Thanks for the info. I work right by here and often wondered what all those trucks were doing. And yes, they seem to be constantly idlling, but never really going any where.

While it could be argued that Tran was simply unaware of his company’s practices, the same cannot be said of his second point that “at times, [Munchery] failed to move our trucks during street cleaning.”

Tran cannot deny that his trucks are parked illegally, as it is obvious that they are all ticketed in this photo. But he denies it anyway. He explains it away as an occasional street sweeping violation—tickets any ol’ San Francisco car owner has received. He makes it sound like an honest, small mistake. But the trucks weren’t ticketed for failing to move for street sweeping as Tran claims. They were ticketed for obstructing traffic.

Tran undoubtedly knows the distinction, as the fine for obstructing traffic is almost double that of a street cleaning ticket. And the Munchery trucks don’t just “occasionally” obstruct the street and adjacent sidewalk: they do it on such a large scale that it is to the point of being dangerous. Take this email we received from one of Munchery’s neighbors:

I live very close to this intersection and one of the munchery trucks backed up far into the sidewalk and came within inches of hitting my 7 yr old on the way home from school last month.  We usually don’t bother trying to go down that side of the street anymore but it was an unusually hot day and the kids wanted to be in the shade, so we attempted to go down that sidewalk behind the trucks.  When the incident occurred there were at least 5 young men sitting in chairs and standing chatting on the sidewalk outside the business.  None of them warned the truck in time that there were pedestrians passing.  The trucks are already overhanging the sidewalk so much that I didn’t anticipate any reason for a truck to back up even more.  It scared me deeply and I won’t attempt to use that west sidewalk again until the trucks are permanently gone.

The emails we received affirm statements left in the comments section of our original report:

I live on that block and drive a slightly larger vehicle. I literally can’t fit down that road, because all of their trucks are blocking traffic.

It’s a huge traffic hazard because it forces that street into a one-lane road, so you have to peer ahead and negotiate with whatever oncoming traffic is coming.

Or this comment:

Not to mention that driving down this block of Alabama is now impossible, and on a bike is quite dangerous.  Cars are doing all sorts of unsafe maneuvers because these trucks take up ⅓ of the width of the street.

The fact that Tran wishes to play this off as just an occasional street sweeping ticket is understandable. The truth of the matter—that his business practices necessitate creating an unsafe environment for his neighbors—is simply bad press.

In the overwhelmingly positive response from neighbors we received after publishing our original story, one additional theme consistently surfaced: Munchery is habitually dumping food waste on the street. As one neighbor sick of Munchery’s practices told Uptown Almanac:

Prior to the noise from the refrigerator trucks, my biggest concern was the unsanitary condition of the sidewalk. To me it seems like they use the street and sidewalk as a garbage dump. I live downstream from what I call Munchery Creek. There seams to be a constant flow of rotting vegetable mater floating down the street.

This is what the wonderfully named “Munchery Creek” looks like:

We’re not disputing Munchery has cleaned up their facility since our report was originally published. In fact, according to city documents obtained by Uptown Almanac, Munchery was hit with a surprise inspection by the Department of Public Health yesterday and passed. They did, after all, have three and a half days to clean up their act. However, Munchery says “a lot of the facts in [the original] article are wrong” because they have cleaned up their mess after we exposed it. That’s simply not true.

The facts are not in Munchery’s favor and we stand firmly behind our original report.

In the end, Uptown Almanac is not surprised that Munchery has launched a full court press denying the truths of our reportage—after all, a lot of money is riding on Munchery’s ability to distinguish itself from competitors such as Spoonrocket and Sprig, and claiming to be “green” is one way to do it.

We just wish they weren’t so transparently full of shit about it.

Comments (44)

What a surprise it was to see the pictures of the location! I read your previous post, but didn’t realize until I saw these photos that that is where, when I used to belong to Mission Cliffs and walk up that street daily as part of my morning commute (from the gym to work), there was ALWAYS a truck blocking the sidewalk. It drove me bonkers because I’d have to go way out into the street to walk around it.  I changed jobs last March, so this has definitely been going on for at least 8 months. 

Love the progress of this story.  Great work all around.

Props for the ongoing expose here.  Keep fighting the good fight. 

I can see it now - Local Mission Refrigeration conveniently located at 23rd & Bryant.  Kill two birds with one stone. 

Great journalism work!  thanks for keeping after them.

Yes, amaaaaazing journalism work!  Evil company hiding trash in garage.  Totally bought it.

You make it pretty clear that you only read the the headline and looked at the main picture.  Thanks for participating!

I am so thrilled this is all finally coming out! They are awful! This is nothing compared to what the inside of the building looks like. 

Weird. Did you get an iPhone that doesn’t sync its clock up or something?

Hey Arkansas,

All of the photos in this post were emailed in to Uptown Almanac by concerned/frustrated neighbors (excluding the photo of the ticket– that was taken by me).

I hope that clears things up,

Jack

You should take down the photos.  They’re up to create sensationalism and you’re just discrediting this entire blog, which has done good in many other circumstances.

Jack, I bet you got excited when you got these photos sent in, but didn’t have the diligence to do some fact checking.  I wonder if the neighbor who sent this to you said, “I just took these!”

Or, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re one of these angry neighbors and have a personal beef against these guys.

There’s a poor guy in the photo OBVIOUSLY trying to clean up the mess with a shovel, broom and hose.  You’ll prolly get him fired.

Anyways, do some good.

Arkansas,

Thanks for reaching out with your concerns. I suggest you re-read the post one more time– that might help clarify things for you. For example, the very first paragraph:

Ever since Uptown Almanac first reported that Munchery was storing food in refrigerated trucks on the street—obstructing traffic and idling those trucks in the process—the dinner delivery startup has been quick to change their practices. They’ve stopped illegally idling trucks at all hours and began parking the trucks further away from their facilities. They’ve even cleaned up the rotting food from the sidewalk and street.

This is pretty clearly stating that the practices being reported are in the past. Or perhaps this line a little further down:

Uptown Almanac has also obtained a copy of a complaint sent to the Planning Department on October 16th, which also reported idling trucks:

Obviously, the complaint in question took place almost a month ago.

Or maybe this line here:

We’re not disputing Munchery has cleaned up their facility since our report was originally published.

I hate to be mean about it, but with even a low level of reading comprehension it should be pretty obvious that these photos are documentation of past problems. Nowhere was the claim made that the photos were from today.

This dude is an employee (if you can call it that – more like contractor, since the Douchery is really just a platform for freelance mayhem, with no accountability) of the Muncher(r)y.  He bullies everyone and has for some time.  To know him is to know these posts, many on this and the other piece.  He posts exactly the same way he interacts with the people around him.  He is a perfect example of why these people need to move along.  

WHAT!

I would be first to start hating an irresponsible company, but the photos being shown with trash on the ground being taken on March and September of this past year????

This “expose” makes it look like they were just taken today, which is extremely DECEPTIVE.  Trumped up, and it’s clear Jack only wants to hear what he wants to hear.

Plus, photos are all taken in the early morning – clearly after compost bins have been taken out by Recology (and it’s probably their fault for spilling food while dumping it).  And it’s clear Munchery staff are there cleaning up after them (hoses, mopping). 

Using photos months old and implying they’re back to their old ways is digenuous.

I’ve read Munchery’s response on their blog.  It’s very reasonable and they’re making real changes.

You’re clearly biased and out to take down the company at all costs.

This is not journalism.

Shame on you, Jack.


If they overfill their compost bins, and it looks like they overfill many of their waste bins, then it is their fault if anything gets spilled.  It is part of Recology’s standard contract whether commercial or residential that bins not be overfull .  It’s not their responsibility to balance your trash heap while moving it from the curb to the truck.

At least they’re considerate of pedestrians as they’re cleaning it up.

CUIDADO!

I did not recieve the impression that the photos were from this week, but rather that they showed the degree of the problem *prior* to the pressure being applied to Munchery to clean up their act.

Right to work documentation needs to be investigated with this operation.

Hey asswipe no one is claiming to have an issue with right to work. I only see hard working people in the kitchen. Do be a douche - these people are ruining the Mission enough without your help.  

Is it me or does watching how the “chefs” at the Munchery are making this crap make me hungry? It’s artisanal. 

*raucuous applause*

Intriguing expose indeed.  Would UA be interested in doing the same for the “church” parking situation in the Mission (Dolores, Valencia, Guerrero streets), which has dangerously obstructed pedestrian and vehicle traffic for years?  That would surely make my year.  I have some photos that I would gladly share with you.

There is so much fabricated in this article it is unreal. There arent as many dwellings within a block of their establishment as there are critical respondents to this article, and the other falsifed statements released in the last week or so. Lets be honest, this has all come out in the last week or so, and it has been a barrage of BS.  Its a shame how many ill-advised agendas are out there… gotta be the competition. I order and actually walk up to pick up a great meal from this kitchen 2-3 times a week. Feel free to meet me outside tomorrow Friday around 2pm and do the same. Unless you only like to hide behind a keyboard? :)

Your wrong dozens of people live close by and many more would like to be able to navigate the sidewalk and the street. Right now for example the side walk is 100% blocked by employees moving foods from the massive trucks to he kitchen. The food - including the vegetables are sitting on the filthy sidewalk next to steaming dog crap.

Hey Munchery employees, nice to see you here on this here.  A few quick items for clarity:  on the block where the Munchery ruins everything for everyone, there are 8 townhouses, 2 duplexes and dozens of artists lofts (at developing environments), a chair designer, a party planner, a car repair place in the same family since the 1960’s, a theater, several wood shops and some new tech office that just opened.  About 60 residents which is many times the resident density of the average block of its size in the city.  Its a small block.

Here is one of probably 50 broken trees courtesy of the Douchery.

Nice try, and can see why you’d think that, but im not an employee of munchery. I actually manage a nearby restaurant. Like i said, i walk there 2-3 times a week and dont see the issues you are claiming. I know munchery’s competition is behind this article; ive also ordered food from them and the quality is not nearly as good. Oh well, fabricated journalism never prevails, and karma will take care of things…

Like munchery said, theyll be movijng soon enough. Everyone wins, and you internet trolls can relax and find something new to comment on. xo

You manage a restaurant and get your meals from Munchery? Can you tell me which restaraunt you manage, so I can avoid it?

You manage a restaurant and don’t see an inherent problem in this service? I’d hate to see your kitchen!

…no, that wasnt a threat, internet trolls… instead come away from the keyboard, out of your mom’s basement, and pickup a great meal two. Love the nonsensical comments though…thanks for the entertainment value, trolls…

You apparently don’t know what a troll is. That’s weird. What’s also weird is your bald-faced excuse-making and defending of a company you claim to have nothing to do with. The evidence is here. The proof is in the pudding. Posting pictures of destroyed trees and trash on the ground is anything but “trolling.” It’s actully civic responsiblity; something these nu-tech companies really need to learn a thing or two about beyond simply waxing poetic about “green” this and “sustainable” that. Oh yeah, they care. They totally care. Only when it doesn’t screw with their bottom line and their god-given right to riches.

Well, it seems that this startup has disrupted the Mission enough- time to move along now if they want to keep their tired economy of scale buisiness model going strong. I passed by the old Million Fishes space today- sitting empty after those first rounds of angel investment burned out. Some disruptions can’t be as easily repaired as this Munchery situation. Disruption indeed.

Munchery sounds like a really crappy operation any way you cut it. the fact they’re sending sock puppets to a blog says it all.

send these idiots to brisbane and let them deal with their lying bullshit and shitty food.

Oh and one more thing: Why aren’t there any brothers on the wall? Boycott Sal’s!!!!

Who told you to buy a brownstone in this neighborhood?

It’s about time things are getting clearer about Douchery. Their business model relys on one thing: Blind venture capitalists. Do you honestly think they’re making any money? Once the pots starts to dry up, and the investors get jittery and start pissing on their valuation, then really watch out. Got knows what you’ll find in your “eco-friendly” plate o’ douche.

Yuck.

For several weeks over the Summer, twice or thrice a week, I was on these same corners, and noticed these trucks were taking over the road like it was their own private lot.   I didn’t like their parking behavior then, so I’m conformtable now in adding my witness and joining their public shaming     

Had me a “thrice”, lost me at “conformtable”

yup, my spelling sometimes suks.

“Me thinks” they are moving to Utah Street @ 17th.

 New lucky neighbors.

Can’t wait for this investigator to check out the shit-show La Cocina causes on Folsom…

Serious, go look.

Just talked to a neighbor and they said zero change from munchery yet.   hoping this gets better so I can actually walk my child on that side of the sidewalk without being run over with a truck or having to walk through the street. 

Dafuq are you doing pushing a stroller there?

There are a lot of paid commentors here.  Clearly the company has sent in it’s assassins.  Think about it why would any normal citizen defend this company?

Munchery, up your game like Uber does,  dig up some dirt about  @WarrenMarcusson   I paid good money for these seats, and me and the  public expect a real fight.