Beachwood To Offer Free Delivery From City Restaurants To Residents
The city of Beachwood is getting into the food delivery business. It’s hiring drivers to pick up and deliver food from nine restaurants in the city. The service will be offered free to residents and is expected to be up and running within days.
It's a temporary program designed to help restaurants that are being rocked by the coronavirus pandemic, not a long-term business plan.
“Believe me, we are not taking over Uber Eats or DoorDash or GrubHub,” said Beachwood Community Services Director Karen Carmen.
The service will be offered from 4 to 8 p.m. daily at a cost of $10,000 to the city. The program, which includes local and chain restaurants such as Yours Truly, Winking Lizard and Giovanni’s Ristorante, is slated to run for about 30 days, and the city is tracking the service to assess whether to continue or expand, such as adding more restaurants to its delivery slate or, eventually, delivering during lunch hours.
“We’re used to transporting seniors to appointments and everywhere else,” said Mayor Martin Horwitz. “We can certainly deliver a pizza.”
Beachwood Delivers is meant to help reduce costs for both city residents and businesses who pay third-party delivery service fees, Carmen explained.
“I did hear from a restaurant owner in Beachwood that he was hurting. And he began to tell us he was doing a third party service and it was 30 percent of his profits,” she said. “And they run anywhere from a 5-7 percent profit. ... So that’s why we decided that we would put our money where our mouth is and help them out.”
Tres Potrillos Mexican restaurant, at the corner of Richmond Road and Chagrin Boulevard, is one of nine restaurants to be served by Beachwood's temporary food delivery service.
Carmen said the city is the right size to accommodate quick delivery.
“We’re only 5.2 miles and our main connection road is a four lane Richmond Road,” she said. “So I think we’ll be O.K. to traverse the city in a fast method.”
Horwitz estimates the program could deliver about 60 to 70 meals a night or 25 percent of the nine restaurants’ takeout business.
“If you assume that we’re saving the restaurant $15-$20 on every meal in delivery charge,” said Horwitz, “it’s thousands of dollars when you multiply it by seven days a week.”
The city has hired six of the eight drivers it plans to employ as independent contractors.
“And the beauty of that is that they will be able to accept tips,” said Carmen. “As a city employee, we’re not allowed to accept tips, so if tips are offered, they can gracefully and legally accept them.”
While the goal of the program is to help retain businesses in Beachwood, Horwitz hopes it is short lived.
“I’ve never said this about a Beachwood program, but I’m going to say this about this program – I hope we can phase this out soon,” he said. “Hopefully this is two to three months and we get back to a more normal society in a perfect world.”