Alex Canter spoke at the Food On Demand Conference about getting his family business, the 30,000-square-foot Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles, into the online ordering game.

photo by Joe Veen

From the brilliant idea file comes this, from Alex Canter, who grew up as the fourth generation of his family’s restaurant business called Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles. It has to do with grilled cheese sandwiches, as he told the audience at today’s Food On Demand Conference in Chicago.

“Grilled Cheese Heaven is the restaurant I launched as an experiment,” he said, after talking with his dad and asking what item his father wished he could put on a delivery menu. The simple bread-and-cheese sandwiches cost “50-ish cents to make it and we sell them for $9 to $11. So just for fun I created a virtual restaurant concept, took some photos, put it up and we’re doing about 20 online orders a day which has added a quarter of a million dollars to our family business.”

Another smart thought: When Canter started experimenting with delivery, he would cook up about 20 items on the menu at a time, then drive around with them for 20 or 30 minutes, slamming on the brakes or dodging the potholes as necessary. He found out breakfast items, especially, didn’t travel well, and began trimming the items available for delivery.

Good idea number three, and the most important, according to Canter: Just do it. He said only 15 percent of restaurants deliver, and that’s an opportunity for all the rest. “Online ordering is kind of discussed as a necessary evil. I completely disagree,” Canter said. “It’s the most exciting opportunity in the restaurant space today. I’m excited there’s a conference built around the opportunity. Keep experimenting.”

Presented by the sister publication to Franchise Times, the Food On Demand Conference continues through tomorrow. Sign up for the weekly e-newsletter at



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