GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — A new Grand Junction business delivers food from eight restaurants to homes and businesses across the Grand Valley from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
The Food Taxi, co-owned by married couple Sean and Sharon Petty, opened July 1. Sharon, who managed a food delivery service in southern California, takes calls and coordinates deliveries, while Sean serves as one of three delivery drivers. He drives the business' signature "food taxi," while other drivers use their personal vehicles.
Customers call 241-1904 and pay $6.69 plus the cost of menu items to have food from Bamboo City, Boston's, Dos Hombres, El Tapatio, Enzo's, Naggy McGee's, Rib City or Taco Time delivered. Schlotzsky's is also on the menu, but the deli is temporarily out-of-service while rebuilding after a fire. Orders must be for at least $15 worth of food and service boundaries for most deliveries are between Fruita and Palisade town limits, north Grand Junction and Whitewater. Deliveries typically take 45 minutes.
The delivery price pays for vehicles, credit card processing fees, drivers and fuel, according to Sean Petty. The business makes money by charging the restaurants involved in the service a fee to market the restaurants through advertisements and a food guide available at the restaurants, online at gjfoodtaxi.com and at some area businesses. The Pettys also talk to local businesses about the service in hopes of creating long-term relationships between the restaurants and their clients and promote new menu items over the phone when customers call Food Taxi.
"For us, it's about marketing, and delivery is the way to do that," Sean Petty said.
Food Taxi's most common lunch clients are businesses and sales representatives who need to feed a large group in-house. In the evenings, clientele typically switches to residential customers, some of whom either can't leave home because of illness or responsibilities, or don't have vehicles and don't have the time or money to take a bus to a restaurant.
Spike Howard, owner of Dos Hombres in Clifton, said he wanted to expand his customer base through Food Taxi to reach people who can't leave home for a night at a restaurant. He said he never considered offering delivery on his own because of the investment required to do so.
"This is the best of both worlds for us. We get our food out into the community and we don't have to incur the costs of insurance and cars," Howard said.
Kelly Favale, co-owner of Enzo's, said her restaurant offered delivery for the first few months it was open three years ago and wanted to bring delivery back at some point. Providing delivery through Food Taxi has gone smoothly, she said, and she expects the service to become even more popular as word spreads.
"It's another way to reach customers that haven't been to the restaurant," Favale said.
Delivery service is somewhat of a new concept in Grand Junction outside of the pizza and catering business, but not in large cities. Petty said he picked $6.69 for the service instead of jacking up menu item prices, as some big city delivery services do, because he didn't think customers would pay that much for delivery in a town where traffic isn't as large a deterrent as it is in more populous areas. He felt enough people would be intrigued by the opportunity to give it a try for less than $7.
"The idea of food delivery is exciting in the valley," he said. "The novelty will wear off, so we want to build relationships."
So far, business is good, according to the Pettys, who say calls have increased seven-fold since the first week they were in business. Their goals for the future include adding more restaurants — maybe a steak or sushi one — and expanding the menu guide to a culinary guide with articles about food. Sean said he doesn't want to add too many restaurants so the remaining ones can stand out, and he wants to continue offer a variety of price ranges and food types.