Anyone hungry? New delivery service deals dinners
A new restaurant delivery service opened in August called Dinners Delivered. It's the brainchild of John Amato, 39, who realized one night during a poker game with friends that there was really no way to get food from his favorite restaurants delivered.
"So here we are, eight people hungrier than hell and no one in any shape to drive anywhere," says Amato, who admits they'd had a few beers. " So I piped up "What do we have to order for delivery?" And I was promptly laughed at by everyone. Not chuckles either but the tear rolling, friends making fun of you laughter."
That's when he says it hit him. "Go get a bunch of restaurants to sign up without a contract or commitment, since in this economy none of them would agree to that anyway, and promo to deliver their food to the city of Charlottesville."
At first, he says his friends were skeptical. While they thought it was a great service to have, they didn't think people would trust that a quality product would be delivered. After all, pizza and Chinese is one thing, a plate of nachos or an entr©e from an Italian restaurant is another. But his own dissatisfaction with delivered foods spurred him on. "There are only so many times you can alternate between Chinese and pizza before getting sick of both," he says.
Living in LA ten years ago, where he worked for a start-up called Earthlink and started his own business selling billiard tables and supplies, Amato says there was a food delivery company called LAbite, which he tried to model Dinners Delivered after.
"They do exactly what I'm trying to start here," he says. "Good food, fast delivery and fair prices. I ordered from them a lot because like me, they had a good selection of local restaurants to choose from. I could order from them seven days a week and never get bored of the food."
So far, Amato has nine local restaurants signed up, as he wanted to feature places he liked. Among those: Baja Bean, Belmont BBQ, Brix Cafe, Copacabana, McGrady's Irish Pub, Ragazzi's, Rivals, Riverside Lunch, and Tiffany's Seafood, with more to come. He also has a website, dinners-delivered.com, where you can order online or find the phone number to call in your order. There's a $4.99 delivery charge on all orders, much less than most gratuity's, but Amato does encourage folks to tip his drivers.
While Dinners Delivered now only serves the Charlottesville City area and its immediate outskirts (Pantops, up to Albemarle Square on 29 North, etc.), Amato says he plans to expand up 29 North to Airport Road in about six months. After that, within a year and a half, he'll be looking at other markets like Harrisonburg and Lynchburg. He's also thought about placing a driver out in Crozet, but says he's not yet convinced of the feasibility of that yet.
Asked about his chances of making the business a success, Amato draws on his roots, and his humor.
"I come from Old Virginia blood stock and like I've said for years, we're either too tough or too stupid to give up," he jokes.