“It’s hard enough to give up margins like that in average times, and it’s even harder during a pandemic," Morgan said.
Morgan and Johnson are among the organizers of the effort, which also includes Co-Op Dayton, the driving force behind the Gem City Market; Flyer Consulting, a student-run organization based at the University of Dayton that provides free business consulting to non-profit organizations; and 937 Delivers’ founding restaurants, including Lily’s Dayton, Butter Café, Dublin Pub, Franco’s Ristorante Italiano, Trolley Stop, Uno Pizzeria & Grill, Ghostlight Coffee/Fantasma Taco, The Pizza Bandit, the Oregon Express and Phebe’s Café.
The idea, Johnson said, is to launch 937 Delivers with a core of restaurants in the downtown Dayton, Oregon District and Brown Street areas, then expand slowly from that base, both geographically and in numbers of participating restaurants. The first meals could be delivered before the end of November, and the co-op’s drivers will also be able to deliver wine, beer and cocktails in addition to meals, Johnson said.
The timing of the 937 Delivers launch could be pivotal for local restaurants. Gov. Mike DeWine said last week he is considering shutting down dine-in service in Ohio restaurants for a second time in an attempt to slow the recent spike of COVID-19 cases throughout Ohio. A decision could come as early as this week.
Restaurants that join 937 Delivers will pay a monthly subscription fee. Customers using the delivery service will pay a delivery fee that would go to the participating restaurants and the drivers, Morgan and Johnson said. Any profits earned by the co-op also would go to the drivers and restaurants.
The MVRA’s Morgan said the meal-delivery co-op also will give local restaurants more control and greater accountability over how their food is treated once it goes out the door, Morgan said.
“Now, if there’s an issue with a delivery from one of the third-party giants, there is little that the local restaurant can do about it,” Morgan said. “We want our local restaurants to be able to provide a delivery service they can be proud of.”
Beaver, Butter Café's owner, said that increased oversight of quality control is an important advantage of 937 Delivers.
“I want to know that when food leaves my restaurant, it will be fine when it reaches my customers' house,” Beaver said.
Lela Klein, executive director of Co-Op Dayton, said 937 Delivers will allow restaurants to come together to help each other survive the pandemic winter, while also keeping their workers employed and providing their customers with delicious food.
Duke Tobin, a UD student studying entrepreneurship, marketing, and communications who is part of Flyer Consulting, said, “Being able to play a role in starting 937 Delivers and helping so many local restaurants has been an incredible experience for all of us, and we are looking forward to seeing how the community comes together around this service.”
The co-op’s founders say they are working with other local businesses to help ensure a successful launch of 937 Delivers. “If a local business wants to help, there are sponsorship opportunities,” Johnson said.
For more information about 937 Delivers, email email@example.com. A 937delivers.com web page is expected to go live shortly, and a 937 Delivers Facebook page was created Monday.