Local service dishes out meals
Monday, April 23, 2018
Stephen Stansbury, an independent home improvement contractor by day, was more than aware of the food delivery options in Rocky Mount.
More aptly, he was well aware of the pizza options — Pizza Hut, Dominos, Papa John’s. He didn’t notice much else, so he and wife, Heather, saw a business opportunity in the works.
That was in August 2015. A little less than three years later, there is a family network of cars driving around the city delivering food from restaurants that would otherwise require take out.
Carryout Cabby, as his business is called, will turn three years old this summer. Since its inception, it has been the only company of its kind in Rocky Mount, a third-party delivery system for those looking for something other than chain pizza.
For Stansbury, it’s a public service inspired by a company he frequented 30 years ago as a child growing up in Maryland, Take Out Taxi. And like a certain ride-sharing app that recently made its way to Rocky Mount, it’s also a chance for some money on the side.
“This is my Uber. It’s my side hustle,” he said. “Right now, we’ve got a mixture of all people for customers. Hotels. People who live in homes and can’t get out. We go to Wesleyan College a lot. My demographic is everyone.”
The one bit of consistent feedback?
“I would say at least five times a week, someone is putting something good on the website,” Stansbury said. “They say ‘Where have you been all my life?’”
How it works: Open for business from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, customers can place an order by phone at 252-212-3551 or online at carryoutcabby.com for a flat fee of $3.95. For deliveries more than seven miles away from a restaurant, an extra dollar is charged.
A driver, usually Stansbury or his son, Marcus, will drive to one of the 11 partner restaurants and have the food brought to anyone in zip code 27801, 27803 or 27804, usually within 30 minutes. For the introvert, all communication through the restaurant is done by COC.
The 11 restaurants are listed on the their website, but include Chinese food, barbeque, Mexican food, other local options — and yes, even a local pizza store.
“Being new to the area, a new concept, a lot of restaurants didn’t understand. They were worried about what was going to happen. Is this real? Will this work?” Stansbury said. “People are starting to know who we are.”
Not included in the 11 participating restaurants are chains like Outback Steakhouse, IHOP or others, something’s that been a continued obstacle.
Early on, Stansbury said, both Olive Garden and Red Lobster were on board, but a steady turnover of managers made a lasting partnership hard to obtain. With some of the big brands, it’s been a recurring theme: Stansbury gets a corporate number to call, which usually leads to a left message or nothing at all, something he hopes will change as his business grows in popularity and also brand recognition.
The amount of drivers Stansbury uses is usually in flux, though right now he and his family handle most of the deliveries. He’s always looking for more, he said, and hopes to expand to lunch hours at some point in the next six months.