When Chef David Falk and his wife, Caitlin, launched Domo near the beginning of the pandemic, they were trying to accomplish several things. One of them, as Falk describes in a video introducing the meal delivery service, was to build a kind of ark that could support his team until they could get to the dry land on the other side of the pandemic. The Falks initially thought of Domo as a stopgap measure until the restaurant scene got back to normal. “Most of us thought, By fall, this will be over,” he says with a wry laugh.
As the pandemic dragged on, and as the home delivery service became more popular, Falk started to think about what it might look like to bring other people into the fold. Could there be room aboard the ark for more than just his own staff? And the first people he thought of contacting were Jeremy and Bridget Lieb at Sacred Beast. Until recently, Domo meals only came from the Boca and Sotto kitchens. Falk, though, has known Jeremy Lieb for 30 years, since they worked together at the Maisonette, and Lieb had been the chef at Boca for years. Falk wasn’t sure Sacred Beast would be interested in making meals for Domo, but the Liebs were excited about the opportunity. Falk gave them complete independence to cook within their own style, rather than fitting into the more Italian-inspired format Domo was already offering.
The Domo service works like this. Interested people sign up to join the Domo email list. On Mondays around 10 a.m., the list receives an email with a menu of offerings that are designed to feed a family of four and only available until all of the slots are gone. There is a “Weekday 911,” available Tuesday through Thursday, with more homestyle chef-driven food, including meals offered by Sacred Beast; the “Weekend Throwdown,” that serves a more elevated meal similar to a Boca or Sotto; and the “Sunday Supper,” which is always the Sotto lasagna. The meals are about 95 percent complete when they are delivered to the house. They can be refrigerated until mealtime, and are baked in a home oven when convenient. All of the meals come with simple instruction cards, carefully labeled ingredients, and recyclable packaging.
The Sacred Beast offerings have proved immensely popular. The first 400 meals they offered for sale were gone within an hour, and demand has not slowed since. Within a few hours of receiving the Monday email, I noticed with dismay that the slots for early in the week were full. I just managed to secure a delivery of the “Weekday 911”—which they called “Not Your Momma’s Salisbury Steak”—for later in the week. The dish epitomized the Sacred Beast ethos, “simple food, taken seriously”—a take on a comfort classic with a dose of French flair, provided by a wonderfully zippy sauce au poivre that was heated in a saucepan and poured over the dish.
The demand has proved a blessing for Sacred Beast, allowing them to keep their employees paid through the holidays, and reopen their dining room. Plus, even if fewer people are eating out, the kitchen staff can still stay busy preparing food for Domo.
It’s inevitable during a crisis like this, Falk says, for a person’s first focus to be keeping their own boat afloat—their own staff, their own family. When it’s clear, though, that your boat isn’t about to go under, you might want to look around and see if there’s anyone else who could use some help. And if that means more happy customers, more people employed, and more good food in the world, what’s not to love? “In life, when things are good for the human soul, and can also make sense from a business perspective, run at those things,” he adds.
Run fast, though; the slots fill up.