Little Rant: When Will the Delivery Trend Reach Columbus?

Beth Stallings

It's 9:30 on Saturday night. My typically even-tempered husband, now a few old-fashioneds into the evening, is trying to keep his cool on the phone with a customer service rep from a local delivery service. We were promised our Indian takeout would arrive two hours ago. We placed the order three hours ago. Where the heck is our food?

Another hour gone by, the minutes ticked off by our rumbling stomachs, and our lamb rogan josh and chicken saag finally arrive. The food is cold.

"Ugh!" I huffed, blinded by hanger. "Why are there no good delivery options in Columbus?"

It's a question that befuddles people all over town-from our Grandview-area neighborhood to Worthington to Westerville. If you want more than pizza, you're hard-pressed to get dinner to come to your doorstep. And yet we've all had those nights when we're too tired, too busy or maybe a little too tipsy to get into our car and go get dinner. The demand must be there. So where are the services to meet it?

This story began as a way to highlight new food-delivery businesses. The promise, my editor commented, sounded too good to be true. What's the catch? In my euphoric, delivery-is-now-a-thing state, I assured her this would work. But I quickly ran into logistical hiccups. One business was closed for "a month off." With another, I had trouble scheduling the right time to get my food. When I ordered lunch from one company, I discovered only after my order failed to arrive that the company had a 10-meal minimum purchase to qualify for delivery. I'd have to come to them to pick it up.

"Would you pay a little extra for delivery?" the owner of that company asked. She explained delivering one order at a time would drive her out of business.

I immediately sympathized. I understand delivery can be a logistical and financial nightmare. There's hourly wage and gas money to take into account. Even though it takes roughly 20 minutes to get anywhere within the 270 loop, Columbus is a fairly spread-out town-getting to-go orders to every neighborhood would be no easy feat.

Semi-reliable delivery services in the city do exist (despite my failed attempts), if you're willing to pay a delivery fee and if you live in the right neighborhood. But here is where I will plead with companies like Cafe Courier and Continue to expand your offerings and partner with more local restaurants! We'd like to support the little guy-and on some nights we'd love to do this from the comfort of a couch.

The hope (I hope) is dawning with this new age of bring-it-to-you apps. On a recent Saturday night, we had a hassle-free encounter with Skip the Dishes-a Canadian-based food delivery service that borrows from Uber's model. For a fee (between $3 and $6) plus tip, someone in your neighborhood will go get your food for you. You can even watch the driver's progress on a map, a reassuring feature.

My advice: Order when you're not too hungry … because it might take a while.