There’s nothing really speacial about toasted sandwiches, but when they’re delivered via parachute, people are bound to notice. Taking full advantage of this idea is a new Melbourne business called ‘Jafflechutes’. More pop-up eatery than regular restaurant, Jafflechutes is just a bunch of guys dropping wrapped sandwiches from their friends’ balconies, to customers down below.
The concept is quite simple – the owners first announce their next planned event. You then log on to the Jafflechutes website and buy a sandwich or ‘jaffle’ of your choice. The website tells you exactly where and when you can collect your order. You reach the venue on time, to find your sandwich floating down from the skies above. Then, you enjoy the said sandwich on the street.
Adam Grant, one of the co-founders, said that Melbourne is quite ideal for Jafflechutes, because of its abundance of inner-city laneways. “We try never to do it in the same place twice – we are usually doing it from friends’ balconies above the CBD,” he said. He started the business along with friends David McDonald and Huw Parkinson, last August.
“We have a few requirements for launching sites,” he added. “It has to be between four and six stories, obviously away from trees and ledges. Melbourne’s laneways means we can operate away from the thoroughfares in the knowledge that we’re not going to interfere with traffic. We will only communicate with people on the ground via Twitter and social media – yelling off the balcony wouldn’t be a good look.”
Adam explained the concept further: “It is a slow reveal over a few days about the location, the time, the ingredients, that kind of thing. When people order off our website, they nominate a time within a bracket that we determine. So for example, they might order two cheese and tomato jaffles at 7pm for Alex. So at 7pm we made them, write the name on the bag, and chute them down.”
The idea for Jafflechutes came about when its three co-founders booked a cabin in the remote Victorian country town of Yandoit via Airbnb, a community market place for accommodations around the world. But when they arrived, they discovered that the cabin had no electricity. “So we go there and had to sit in the dark and cold just talking rather than playing on YouTube or whatever,” said Adam.
“It was kind of confronting, we talked about a lot of stuff that night, but the one thing that really came out of it was the concept behind Jafflechuting.” One of the most surprising things about the concept is that it is not-for-profit. The owners have decided not to make a profit out of the enterprise, just to maintain its DIY ethos.
“We make the chutes from tape, garbage bags, nylon string and a bit of wire. They take quite a while to put together but that’s part of the fun for us.” Adam said that they haven’t had much time to socialize or have fun since they started doing this. Most of their time is spent making the chutes. They also encourage people to recycle the Jafflechutes to avoid generating too much of waste.
The idea has become extremely popular on the internet, gaining much attention and praise on social networks. The founders now want to do events in a handful of cities around the world, starting with the United States. They recently did a Pozible campaign to raise money to take Jafflechutes to North America.
“We were a bit reluctant to go down the crowd-funding route at first, as there are so many campaigns out there with nobler causes than ours,” said Adam. “But for a loss-making non-business with America-sized ambition, there turned out to be no other option,” he admitted. Naturally, all three founders have day jobs, which is why they’ve been able to sustain the idea so far. But their next stop is New York, for which they’re going to need all the money they can raise.
If you’re curious but can’t make it to the next Jafflechutes event, try watching their video: ‘The Magic of Jafflechutes’. It’s a nice concept, but I do think grown-ups eating sandwiches off parachutes on the street is a tad bit absurd. I suppose that’s what makes it so popular!