Waitr is dominating the Baton Rouge food delivery market

    When Hammond-based Your Mom’s Restaurant opened in Baton Rouge on West Lee Drive in 2015, its straightforward lineup of casual eats and its full bar helped attract streams of regulars from nearby neighborhoods and the LSU community.

    But lately, some of Your Mom’s most loyal customers never even cross its threshold, thanks to the home delivery app Waitr, Business Report details in a new feature in the current issue.

    Customers who don’t want to fight traffic, but who find themselves craving the spot’s debris fries or jalapeño ranch burgers, are logging onto the app and clicking their way to dinner. Pre-loaded credit card and delivery information eliminates the need to call the restaurant, or to engage in a cash transaction with the driver.

    “We think it’s a great concept,” says Your Mom’s owner Trent Fresina, who began working with Waitr about eight months ago. “We’ve seen about a 10 percent increase in to-go sales.”

    A tech startup that first launched in Lake Charles in late 2015, Waitr has seen impressive early growth in and outside of south Louisiana, says founder and CEO Chris Meaux. The company provides restaurants a home delivery infrastructure, which can bring substantial new sales while not tying up tables. Restaurants pay a fee per transaction to Waitr.

    Customers order directly through the app, accessing menus that are priced the same as dining in. The only additional customer fee is a $5 delivery charge and an optional driver tip.

    “I’ve averaged $6,000 a month in new to-go orders from Waitr since July,” says Mestizo Louisiana Mexican Cuisine owner and chef Jim Urdiales, who has added higher quality to-go packaging as a result of the uptick. “They’re more small orders than big orders, but I prefer that to sitting at a table for an hour. It’s all about convenience.”

    About 280 Baton Rouge restaurants had enrolled as of late March, making the Capital City Waitr’s largest market.

    Several factors contribute to this, Meaux believes. Busy families are pressed for time and want to avoid getting out in traffic. Moreover, Baton Rouge is a college town, and its tens of thousands of students are early adapters of apps that make life easier. Finally, Meaux says Baton Rouge attracts a lot of in-state business and leisure travel from cities that also feature Waitr.

    “People from Lafayette, another one of our cities, visit Baton Rouge every day, and a lot of them are using Waitr to discover new restaurants,” he says. “The fact that we’re in so many different markets means we’re able to bring restaurants to new customers they would not have gotten before.”

    Read the full feature. Send your comments to editors@businessreport.com.

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