Food delivery startup Habitat Logistics, makers of an app that connects restaurants with delivery service, is ramping up efforts this week as the City of Philadelphia officially banned restaurants and bars from offering dine-in service amid trying to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The Old City-based company, which currently employs about 25 people, set up shop around Temple University about five years ago as a food delivery service akin to Grubhub or Caviar. But when competitor Zoomer closed in 2017, the startup assessed its services and pivoted slightly: Instead of a consumer-facing product, Habitat’s services are now exclusively for restaurants seeking delivery service, offered via individual drivers or bike couriers.
Customers now put in an order to a restaurant, and the restaurant will use Habitat’s app to deploy a delivery person. They’ve been growing steadily for about three years, CEO and cofounder Andrew Nakkache told Technical.ly.
And then, last week, efforts to begin social distancing started (and then were enforced by the City’s mandate to close restaurants to in-house dining). Some restaurants have closed their doors and had to lay off staff.
“We’ve historically been under the radar, but now it feels almost like our duty for restaurants to know we’re out there,” Nakkache said.
The team is now connecting restaurants with delivery service the same day. It’s part of what the company is calling a “stimulus package,” employing people as delivery drivers or couriers, and allowing restaurants without an in-house delivery person to stay open for business.
Any restaurant or other gig economy worker who’s recently lost their job because of the pandemic can now sign up on the Habitat platform. The company currently works with about 150 restaurants in the Philly area, it said.
“Some restaurants are deciding to close for two weeks or so and that could totally harm their business,” Nakkache said. “That doesn’t have to happen, there is another option. There’s a lot of things we can do to help you grow your delivery business quickly.”