If you’ve got a hunger for tasty Mexican, Thai, barbecue or seafood — but simply can’t get away from your home or office — then a new service being introduced in Columbus is ready to bring it to you.
Called “Waitr,” the delivery service began a soft launch Monday in Columbus in advance of its official debut on Thursday. Already, more than 30 restaurants have signed on for Waitr, which uses an online site and smartphone app for ordering, with a flat fee of $5 to have it delivered to one person or an entire office staff.
“The really cool thing we’ve found is that once restaurants use this, their business actually can increase 10 to 15 or 20 percent,” Waitr public relations director Dean Turcol said Monday. “In fact, we’ve heard of cases where it’s actually saved restaurants ... We’re really happy that the restaurant itself, when they partner with us, that it helps their business. We want their business to grow and, of course, we want our business to grow as we continue to expand.”
Founded by Chris Meaux in 2015 in Lake Charles, La., Waitr is now in seven states, with Columbus the first launch in Georgia, Turcol said. The service, which includes order-tracking technology, also includes a carryout option that is free to customers. It also lets those taking out food to track their orders, such as making sure it is ready to be picked up at the restaurant.
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The ease of offering delivery service without any extra staffing or insurance expense is what attracted Columbus restaurateurs Sanjay Chadhury and Trevor Morris to Waitr. Chadhury, who owns the local Wild Wing Cafe at Columbus Park Crossing, and partnered with Morris on Trevioli Italian Kitchen on Blackmon Road, said the two expect it to pay off for them even with Waitr charging them 15 percent of the total sale for delivery.
“I like it because it will actually bump up the to-go sales,” Chadhury said. “We also don’t have to have a delivery system with a driver or somebody on the payroll or having bigger insurance. That’s a good thing. But we’re expecting at least $10,000 to $15,000 more in sales for Wild Wing because of the Waitr system. That’s my target. But we will know once we start out.”
If there are any problems with orders, either Waitr or the restaurant will responsible for making things right with the customer, depending on the situation, said Waitr business process analyst Jeanne Dupre. She said customers should contact the company via the app to report any issues.
Turcol said Waitr anticipates using as many as 200 drivers to deliver the restaurant food to hungry residents in Columbus once the service has expanded in the market. In other markets, following the launch, between 60 and 100 eateries have taken part in the service, he said.
Those using Waitr need to go to its website and create an account, choose a restaurant, browse its menu, select items for an order, then pay via a credit card. All food prices are what they would be on the in-house restaurant menu, Waitr said.
As for Fort Benning, which would be a large market itself with the thousands of permanent party soldiers and civilians working and living on the military post, Turcol said Waitr would like to be delivering there as quickly as possible.
“We have plans to expand into Fort Benning, but we have to get final permission,” he said. “We’re going through a process with them, and talking to them to get final approval.”
COLUMBUS RESTAURANTS ON THE WAITR MENU
Columbus restaurants already enlisted to take part in the service, according to Waitr, include:
▪ Cantina Bar & Grill
▪ Smokey Pig BBQ
▪ Lemongrass Thai & Sushi
▪ Wild Wing Cafe (Columbus Park)
▪ Trevioli Italian Kitchen
▪ Popeye’s (River Road)
▪ Sapo’s Mexican Cocina & Bar
▪ IHOP (Airport Thruway)
▪ Gigi’s Cupcakes
▪ The Blue Iguana Bar & Grill
▪ Wheeley’s Cafe
▪ Pita Pit (Bradley Park)
▪ The Hangout Bar & Grill
▪ Shrimp Basket
▪ Mellow Mushroom
▪ McAlister’s Deli
▪ Buffalo Wild Wings
▪ Newk’s Eatery
▪ Moe’s Southwest Grill (Columbus and Midland)
▪ Great American Cookies (Columbus Park)
▪ Tropical Smoothie Cafe
▪ Pita Mediteranean Street Food
▪ JL Japanese Express
▪ Shane’s Rib Shack
▪ Cerrone’s Brick Oven Pizzeria
▪ Firehouse Subs (Gateway Drive)
▪ Cafe Le Rue
▪ How Sweet It Is Cake Studio & Dessert Shop
▪ Wicked Hen
▪ Zombie Pig BBQ