Searching for ways to keep getting food to customers stuck at home, some restaurants launched in-house delivery

Apps like Waitr and Uber Eats have always offered convenience. But this spring, they became a necessity like never before.

As restaurants faced increasingly thinner margins, though, they scrambled for new ways to generate income. Not wanting to lose money to delivery services’ built-in fees, some developed their own delivery systems on the fly. In some cases, this meant restaurant owners, cooks or waitstaff climbing into cars or onto bikes to personally hand deliver meals.

Mid City’s Rocca Pizzeria launched “Operation Employ” on March 20, keeping demand up with a running $10 pizza special—and keeping workers busy with a new in-house delivery service. Regular staff members became drivers, ushering pizzas and garlic knots around town. The response was so great, Rocca ran out of pizza dough multiple nights during the initiative.

Doe’s Eat Place also began in-house delivery to Mid City, Garden District and Southdowns.Local franchise owner Scott Overby, his business partner or whichever employees were working that day handled deliveries. Minimum orders of $25 for lunch and $50 for dinner, plus a $5 surcharge on all deliveries, ensured Doe’s would make enough money to cover the cost of food and paying its employees.

Other restaurants like Good Eats Kitchen were already delivering meals on prescheduled days prior to the coronavirus outbreak. But the outbreak pushed it to ramp up the delivery schedule as well as waive its delivery fees—which owners saw as a courtesy to the community.

This article was originally published as part of the ‘Restaurants fight to survive’ cover story in the May 2020 issue of 225 Magazine.