Creator of Vancouver food delivery platform says he can't keep up with demand
VANCOUVER -- The inside of Pidgin restaurant in Gastown looks very different these days, transformed from a dining room into a command centre for food delivery platform FromTo.
Pidgin owner Brandon Grossutti created the service at the start of the pandemic as a way to compete with the likes of UberEats and Skip the Dishes. FromTo works the same way, but takes no commission.
Currently, there are 350 drivers working on the platform, which has 44 restaurants signed up and more than 250 waiting to join. Grossutti has already put his restaurant staff to work on the website, but it’s still a slow growth process.
“I wish we could be bigger, faster,” Grosutti told CTV News. “Sitting there and looking at our backlog, I know a lot of these restaurants and their families personally, and it’s like I can’t do it fast enough … If we had some money and some muscle behind this I think we could dominate this city and basically kick out multinationals.”
All of Grossutti and his team’s work so far has been on building the technical structure. There is currently an android and iOS app for delivery drivers and restaurants, but not for customers. Orders can only be placed through the website, but an app is in the works.
This spike in demand comes as more restaurants rely on takeout with COVID-19 restrictions banning indoor dining. Those restrictions look likely to be extended into May, which could make that demand increase even further.
Last week, the B.C. Restaurant and Food Association said industry groups had met with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who indicated the restriction would need to be extended as COVID-19 cases in the province remain alarmingly high.
Just one day before restrictions are set to expire, the provincial government’s website still says the order will be lifted at midnight Monday night.
“We haven’t heard anything official from our government the day before,” Grossutti said. “If it was going to open and if people weren’t following rumour mills they would be sitting here ordering a bunch of food and prepping today. I find it incredibly irresponsible of our government the way that things have gone thus far.”