New food delivery service in Lexington focusing on locally-owned restaurants; testing out robots

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – Food delivery services are in high demand right now. Chances are you’ve had dinner delivered to your house recently, and each time you rack up a delivery fee. Our Victor Puente explains how Delivery Co-op works and the high-tech option they’re testing.

With more and more food being delivered, numerous reports have shown that popular delivery services like DoorDash and UberEats take a percentage of each order, forcing some restaurants to either raise their prices, or eat that cost.

“People are struggling using DoorDash. Some feel like they have to, some are not doing delivery at all. This is really the best option for both of those people,” Aaron Withers said.

Withers is the managing director of Lexington-based Delivery Co-op. The organization allows restaurants and customers to pay a flat fee, then their workers deliver the food, at no extra cost to either party.

Right now they’re working with Chef Ouita Michael to test the program at two of her restaurants, Zim’s Cafe, and Honeywood.

Within a years time they intend to have 50 restaurants and 50 drivers as part of the Co-op. As new customers sign up for the program, they’ll be able to add people on.

“It’s moving faster than we thought. We were able to add a second restaurant faster than we thought so everything’s going pretty well,” Withers said.

They also hope to provide good jobs. Their delivery drivers get to keep all of the tips, which isn’t always the case with the popular apps. They’re also salaried and have healthcare.

“It’s a really good gig. I’m really thankful for it. And I get to just kind of be by myself,” driver Giselle Keena.

The program is also testing out using a robot to help deliver the food. They hope to eventually have it fully automated, to support those drivers.

“We’re focused on local independent restaurants. We don’t really care about like, the Chipotle’s, McDonald’s who are already benefiting from DoorDash,” Withers said.

Withers said at the end of the year, any net profits from the Co-op are given back to the members.

You can visit their website here.

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