Now you can enjoy beach eats and never leave your jammies
One of the great things about this business of eating is all the different ways you can get restaurant food from point A to point B. (Point B being your mouth.) I’ve written about acquiring food through windows. Or sitting down while white linens leave white lint on your black pants. Or steering with your knees in a drive-through and simultaneously retrieving sticky change from the bottom of your drink holder. You can even order and pay entirely online and your order will be ready for pickup (Bethany Blues has a good system for that).
But here in this resort town we have been delivery challenged. The vagaries of year-round business - not to mention seasonal gridlock - have made it difficult for delivery services to survive. And up until now, it has been a challenge to get restaurants to treat delivery orders the same as in-house orders. That poor BBQ sauce-covered fax machine desperately beeping in the corner of a busy kitchen has seen its day.
But there’s a new kid in town who has figured out how to surmount most of the negatives. And if you are one of the unfortunates who scrolls through Facebook every day, you’ve probably noticed his well-designed promotions. Newark native Mark Wiggins is eminently qualified to create those materials, given his background in graphics and web design. When a friend introduced him to a web-based restaurant ordering/delivery platform, he was impressed with the technical specifications and user-friendliness of the system. So he decided to bring that software and his promotional expertise to the beach. And he named it Deliveroso.
Think of it as Netflix for your mouth. Once you set up an account in the system, you can pick and choose the restaurant you like - and if a particular eatery is too far from you, you won’t see it as an option. Click on the logo of your favorite restaurant (Mark is an equal-opportunity delivery guy - he offers everything from fast food to popular sit-down establishments) and the menu appears. You then get to click your way through everything the restaurant has deemed appropriate for delivery. Every possible option is made available. Sauce on the side? Extra mustard? No roll? Avoid all truffle oil? You can add or subtract what you like and the system translates it into restaurant-speak. The order appears on the restaurant’s point-of-sale computer exactly as if a server had ordered it from the dining room. At the same time, the system is checking the locations of the nearest drivers and plotting the quickest route for him or her to use to deliver your food.
One of the features I appreciate most is that the system texts you with the progress of your order. After all, it knows you’re hungry, so it wants to be reassuring. Last weekend I ordered from Rosenfeld’s Jewish Deli using Deliveroso. As soon as I submitted the order, the system texted me the estimated time for food prep, pickup and delivery. After about 10 minutes, I received another text: “Hello, your driver is waiting at Rosenfeld’s Jewish Delicatessen for your food to come out of the kitchen. They will be on their way as soon as it is ready.” (I couldn’t help but be amused by the grammar error, but this is corned beef we’re dealing with, not rocket science.)
A scant two minutes later, another text arrived. It announced: “Your driver is on their way to deliver your order.” Not bad. Even with the persistent grammar error. And we were still well within the time frame the system promised. It wasn’t long before a friendly delivery guy appeared, presented me with an iPad screen for approval and signature, and mere moments later I was slathering the extra Russian dressing I had ordered onto my still-warm turkey reuben. Not bad. Not bad at all. And if you order regularly, Deliveroso has an awards program where accumulated points translate into free food. Still not bad.
Deliveroso is a new company, and new restaurants are appearing on the site every week. At the time of this writing, you can remain firmly planted in your bunny slippers and still have it your way at Saketumi, Rosenfeld’s, Miyagi Ramen Bar, Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s, 5 Guys, Grandpa MAC, Casapulla’s Subs, Panera Bread and Capriotti’s. Like fast food? Most of the local fast-food spots are also available. Several additional sit-down establishments are in the works, and Mark tells me that they will soon appear in the lineup at Deliveroso.com.
One of the best features of the software is the Office Order feature. Let’s say that a business owner wants to buy lunch for his or her employees. Easy: He or she simply assigns the “team” a name (say, for example, “Cape Gazette Feature Columnists”). The system sends each member of the team an email with a link where he or she can order what they like, either up to a pre-set amount or with no dollar limit. The system charges one delivery fee for all orders placed within the predetermined time frame. Gift certificates are also available where the recipient can order from any participating restaurant.
One of my favorite things in the world is entrepreneurism. It takes a bit of wisdom - and a lot of bravery - to identify a need and then create something to fill that need. And it looks like Mark Wiggins’ entrepreneurial spirit will help make beach eating even easier.