Local restaurants launching in-house delivery systems on the fly 

For Baton Rouge restaurants, complying with the state’s dining-in restrictions to fight the spread of the coronavirus has meant having to generate income in new ways. Some are developing their own delivery services on the fly.

Mid City’s Rocca Pizzeria was already planning to begin delivery through third-party apps, but the closure added a sense of urgency, according to executive chef Jourdan Fulbright.

It launched “Operation Employ,” keeping workers busy with a new in-house delivery service and a running special: any pizza for $10.

Though you won’t see Rocca’s recognizable red vespa around Mid City, restaurant staff members are serving as delivery drivers to get the meals around town. Rocca has run out of pizza dough multiple nights since announcing “Operation Employ” on March 20.

Doe’s Eat Place also began in-house delivery in response to the statewide announcement. The restaurant offers delivery to Mid City, Garden District and Southdowns.

Minimum orders of $25 for lunch and $50 for dinner and a $5 surcharge on all deliveries ensures that Doe’s makes enough money to cover the cost of the food and paying its employees.

As a small local outpost of the Mississippi franchise, Doe’s Eat Place is delivering as a way to keep payroll going and help its employees, according to owner Scott Overby. Overby, his business partner, or whichever employees are working that evening personally make the deliveries.

Most of Doe’s customers who place takeout orders are regulars, so the delivery service hasn’t been extensive—which is perfectly fine with Overby. He says he prefers to keep employees off the roads but will deliver to areas around the restaurant if requested.

Good Eats Kitchen was already delivering pre-made and packaged meals prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Now, the restaurant is waiving its delivery fees “as a courtesy to our community and consumers,” according to a press release.

Mondays and Wednesdays have always been delivery days, but Good Eats Kitchen announced March 23 that it would begin Friday deliveries. Its customized wrapped van delivers chef-prepped heat-and-eat meals to customers in the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas.

“Delivering fresh, healthy, prepared food to those who need it is at the core of our business,” says Boyer Derise, president of Good Eats Kitchen. “Good Eats Kitchen is in a unique position to utilize our existing business model to add value to our community during this time of need by offering free delivery of fresh, nutrient-dense meals to those who can’t—or don’t want to—leave their homes.”

The challenges of running an in-house delivery service has led many other restaurants to partner with third-party companies to serve a larger portion of the community.

Grubhub, a third-party food delivery service, has suspended collection of commission payments from independent restaurants to ease the economic impact of the pandemic.

Read the full 225 magazine story here, and click here for a full list of local restaurants offering takeout or delivery. Subscribe to the free 225 Dine e-newsletter to keep up with Baton Rouge food and events.

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