Food & Drink: Grab ’n’ go

Byte offers healthy food, fast

By Tanya Henry

Little did husband-and-wife team Lee and Megan Mokri know when they launched their 180Eats meal delivery service in 2014 that in two short years it would morph into something completely different.

Rather than dropping meals at homes, Byte, as they now call themselves, offers a high-tech vending machine experience to businesses and public spaces that is all about fresh, local food. The company’s tagline reads, “Fresh Food. Anytime. Anywhere.”

To say that Byte is disrupting the tired old vending machine experience is an understatement. With around 30 “fridges” in locations throughout Marin—including at BioMarin and Autodesk—Byte’s typical offerings include salads and sandwiches from Rustic Bakery, Marin Kombucha and Blue Bottle Coffee. The company even employs a forager to source locally made products to rotate through their fridges. Likewise, regional producers are tapped for stocking the Byte machines as far south as San Jose and north to Petaluma.

Not only do these fridges look different than standard vending machines, they are different. Instead of having to produce the exact amount of change, carefully enter each coin or unruffled dollar bill, punch in hard-to-read numbers and finally (if you’re lucky) witness a micro-sized bag of stale chips release from a scary metal contraption, you can now simply swipe a card. In addition, these machines have a glass door that can be opened once a card is swiped, and remain open until selections are made.

Byte is also revolutionary in tech terms. With each swipe of a credit card, the fridges capture data that ultimately helps the Byte team understand their customers’ habits—including what they are buying and at what time of the day.

“We wanted to curate micro retail locations for last-minute purchases,” notes Megan, who says they learned that there is a hugely underserved group of people who might be too far from a store or restaurant to leave work for lunch. Likewise, for anyone who misses breakfast, Byte tries to fill that gap with yogurt, granola, fresh juices and smoothies.

The savvy team behind Byte is now up to 30 people. They have outgrown their space on Kerner Boulevard and are in the process of moving to a larger office.

“A lot of people say [Byte] is a place where they discover new brands,” Megan says. “Our goal is to offer high-quality, reliably good food.”

Byte, 415/747-1991; bytefoods.co.

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