By Anna Lardinois
Soggy fries and limp pizza crusts have long been accepted as the reality of delivered food.
While it is convenient to stay curled up on your couch, waiting for someone to deliver you a pizza, the food that shows up to your house has little in common with what is served in the restaurant dining room.
Longtime restaurant industry veteran Gary Plassmeyer wasn’t satisfied with delivery customers at his pizzeria having to choose between convenience and food quality. He searched restaurant supply houses looking for a delivery box that would keep food warm while removing moisture, but he could not find anything on the market that could deliver the desired results.
Without any other options, Plassmeyer decided to create his own delivery box that would keep food hot and crisp.
Gary does not have a background in engineering. In fact, other than the mouth-watering recipe for his popular Mama Bev’s Gooey Butter Cake, he had never built anything from scratch. But he was undaunted and eager to solve this problem, so he dove into the project.
Starting with a catering box and a dehumidifier, Gary began to experiment with different constructions in an unused portion of the dining area in his pizzeria. Soon, a curious restaurant regular, who also happened to be an engineer, Hemal, sat in with Gary for a few of his tinkering sessions. Before long, the pair was joined by Gary’s former neighbor, Paul Gromowski, and Hemal’s cousin Gurev, who are both engineers, in the quest to try to create a contraption that would keep food hot and crisp.
The restauranter and the three engineers worked on the problem together for about six months before they hit their eureka moment. They finally created a box that kept food as hot and crispy as it was the moment it left the kitchen. What they didn’t realize was major corporations all across the country were also working on their own solutions to the food delivery problem. They would soon discover that they created something well-funded teams of researchers have not yet been able to achieve.
In January, the company was featured in a 2020 list of startup companies to watch in Wisconsin. Shortly after the article was published, they got an unexpected call. Georgia Pacific’s GP Pro division was very interested in what the men created, and they wanted to see the box for themselves.
The team met with executives at Georgia Pacific and eventually entered into a marketing and research contract with the manufacturer. As part of this agreement, the box was tested in front of consumers and put to the test in the field. Diners loved it and the box worked as promised, to the delight of restaurateurs and delivery drivers involved in the test. It was so well received that the engineers at Georgia Pacific developed a custom designed lithium-ion battery to make the box easier to use.
The team predicts Georgia Pacific will renew their contract with Thermonator Holdings when the current agreement expires this summer. Even if they don’t, the company has other major names in the food industry lined up to work with them. The team has been in contact with the corporations behind BW3s, Subway, Jimmy John’s, and other notable names, all eager to have the opportunity to collaborate with the men.
The next few months will likely determine Thermonator’s future, but it seems clear that hot and crispy food delivered to our doors will soon be a reality for at home diners.
To follow Thermonator development, connect with them here.