By Lyndsie Kiebert
Freshly jobless and seeking his next entrepreneurial adventure, Ben Murray decided to explore a suggestion from his neighbor: Why didn’t he start a food delivery service with a phone app?
“It came out of a suggestion, then I started looking down the pathway and thought, ‘Wow. What a cool thing to bring to the community, and I have the toolbox I need to build it,’” Murray said.
That toolbox comes from a background of working on start-ups, most recently a software company tailored to helping owners of small music venues. When the pandemic put a stop to live music events, it became clear that Murray needed to start something new. Thanks to his neighbor’s suggestion and some additional research, Murray began to see that “a lot of good” could come from a food delivery service.
Besides creating a job for himself, Murray said he also loved the idea of creating flexible, enjoyable and good-paying jobs for locals who might want to sign on as drivers. Additionally, he could create a new avenue for restaurants — who were navigating an onslaught of restrictions — to reach customers both old and new.
Above all? He could keep the integral connection between hungry people and beloved local dishes going.
“[I could] get people food from their favorite restaurants that maybe they couldn’t get because they were worried about being out in public, or didn’t want to leave the house for whatever reason — we could get people food so they could still support these local restaurants,” he said.
Currently, DeliverEats hosts seven businesses: Tango Cafe, City Beach Organics, Heart Bowls, Utara Brewing, Evans Brothers Coffee, Dub’s Drive-In and Moxie’s Soul Grub. Murray said he is working with more establishments — particularly those that serve dinner — to help grow the DeliverEats network. He said he hopes that the app will encourage locals to try something new.
“I think in a small town it’s easy to get caught in your routine, but this has really forced me to open up my vision and see who’s out there,” he said. “It’s great — there’s a lot of people doing really great stuff in the food scene right now.”
To download the DeliverEats app, search for it in the Apple or Google stores — DeliverEats 7B — and select the icon with the small green car on a black background.
Once the app is downloaded, the process to order food is straightforward: select an open restaurant, order from the menu, enter credit card information and a delivery address, then watch the app track your order throughout the process — when the business accepts it and begins making it, when a driver is assigned to it and when it’s on its way to your door.
Currently, deliveries are allowed within 10 miles of the desired restaurant location. Murray said this is subject to change as he brings on more drivers. Right now, DeliverEats has just over 10 active drivers. Those interested in driving for the service can download the DeliverEats Driver app and start the application process at any time.
Moxie’s Soul Grub, the latest DeliverEats sign-on, is a vegetarian comfort food truck located in the Oak Street Food Court. Moxie’s co-owner Taylor Ward said her business jumped on the opportunity to be a part of the new venture.
“We appreciate that DeliverEats is owned and operated locally, unlike Uber Eats and others delivery services. It’s unusual and, we think, very cool that the owner of the company is also working as a delivery person,” Ward said. “I think that Sandpoint is a very community-oriented city and most of the people here prefer to support local businesses. Historically, the only restaurants that delivered were pizza places, including chains like Dominos. I think that many people in the area will appreciate the opportunity to both eat local and not have to leave their homes.”
Murray said one of his favorite parts of the process so far has been getting to know the people behind the menus.
“I love building connections and building relationships,” he said. “It’s great to partner with restaurants and see how they respond. Each owner is unique and does things in their own way and brings their own flavor and their own energy to the process — but we’re all part of the same team, and it’s great to see what each restaurant adds and brings to the service.”
Another bright spot in DeliverEats’ beginnings has been the actual delivery experience, Murray said.
“People are genuinely psyched when I bring them their food, which is really cool,” he said. “It can be stressful, doing the deliveries and doing all the admin work … but then I get there, I bring this person their food and they’ve got a huge smile on their face. They are happy, and they say, ‘Thank you so much, I needed this.’ After every delivery I’m like, ‘Totally worth it.’”
Find DeliverEats on Facebook at facebook.com/DeliverEatsSandpoint. Restaurants interested in joining DeliverEats can contact owner Ben Murray at [email protected]
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