Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could wake up one lazy morning and satisfy a raging pancake craving by getting someone to deliver a hot breakfast to you? Jay Tenga had that very thought and decided to do something about it by founding the Breakfast Courier, one of a number of delivery services in Vancouver that partner with multiple restaurants and efficiently bring food to your door.
However, Tenga and his business partners Ripan Gill and chef Murray Flaherty quickly discovered that breakfast is a bit of a delivery nightmare. “Breakfast is a huge challenge to deliver. We had to think of food that would be warm and presentable for our customers. And there are a lot of breakfast items that we just can’t deliver, like items with hollandaise sauce because the eggs split from the butter,” he says during a phone chat. The solution was two-pronged. First, Flaherty designed a menu with selections—such as French toast, and scrambled eggs with hash browns, toast, and bacon—that would survive the trip. Second, he recruited restaurant partners that could cook those items.
The ordering process is simple: you place your order online or by phone, and the Breakfast Courier alerts its nearest restaurant partner, which is a seven- to 10-minute bike ride from you. Roughly 35 minutes later, your breakfast is delivered by a professional bike courier, some of whom have experience weaving through New York traffic. The delivery charge is included in the price of the menu items, which run from about $12 to $14 each. (Tips to the courier are appreciated.) The service covers select areas of Vancouver (see website) and there are plans to expand; it runs from 8 a.m. to noon on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Bonus for all you partygoers: if you’re anticipating a big night out, the website gives you the option of ordering breakfast for a specific time the next (groggy) morning.
While the Breakfast Courier has your bacon covered, other companies can deliver the rest of your meals for the day. Meals at your downtown office can be covered by Foodee, which is proud of its partnership with Shift Urban Cargo, an ecofriendly oversized-tricycle-powered delivery company, and its use of compostable containers and cutlery. “Your typical food delivery uses Styrofoam packaging. And caterers have great food options but don’t have the same curated selection of restaurants that we’re able to offer,” Cynthia MacNeil, a spokesperson for Foodee, says by phone.
Foodee was designed as an alternative to traditional caterers for office meals. MacNeil says it works closely with sought-after food establishments in order to identify items that will travel well, from Meat & Bread’s ultrapopular porchetta sandwich, to more substantial entrées like seafood risotto from Cork & Fin. Delivery generally costs $15, and 24 to 48 hours’ notice is preferred. Tips are not accepted.
Both office and home diners can use Orderit, which is based in Toronto and services cities across Canada. Orderit has delivery down to a science, to the point where it can handle orders for roughly 250 Vancouver restaurants, most of which don’t have their own delivery service. Spokesperson Corina Newby says that restaurants use it because their kitchens can produce more food than can typically be served to their in-house diners, and this delivery service lets them expand their customer base. In exchange, Orderit takes a commission of up to 30 percent on the food ordered.
When orders are placed, they’re sent electronically to restaurants and picked up by Orderit drivers, unless a restaurant has its own delivery vehicles and staff. Drivers place the food in insulated carriers and arrive at the customer’s door about 45 to 60 minutes later. (Newby recommends ordering ahead of time for faster service.) The company manages its many orders with a sophisticated tracking and dispatching system it developed with Telus. Depending on the restaurant, delivery charges range from nothing to $6.95, with customers tipping roughly 10 percent on average.
Newby claims that customers also benefit from not having to deal with the “clanking and kitchen clamour” they do when ordering directly from a restaurant, and from having a middleman to voice their concerns to if the food is late or not to their liking.
In contrast to Orderit’s fleet of vehicles, Cartems Donuterie (534 West Pender Street) has just one Dutch cargo bike that delivers its specialty, gourmet doughnuts, to select areas of downtown. “The owners are active people and they like to ride bikes,” says manager Sumiko Grace by phone, explaining why their delivery concept was invented. “For the downtown core, a bike is easier than a car. Finding parking would take a lot longer than zipping around on a bike.” Cartems requires at least 24 hours’ notice for delivery orders and a minimum order of a dozen doughnuts ($36); delivery hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday. Grace adds, “Tips are always welcome but not necessary.” But we’re guessing you’ll be pretty grateful to see that bike pull up with your favourite dozen.