These local alternatives to major food delivery apps support small business.
Oladotun Olorunisola has been trying to let Toronto know that there is a whole lot of Africa on the city’s culinary scene for a while now.
And with everyone ordering takeout multiple nights a week and getting understandably tired of pizza and chicken during lockdown, it may be his moment.
Afritastes is his delivery service for 12 African restaurants, as well as Sub-Saharan grocery staples like zobo and yam flour.
It is a one-man show, with Olorunisola—who otherwise works at Lush—taking the orders and making deliveries within a 30 km radius of his North York base. This area is home to the largest concentration of African restaurants.
There’s no app (at least, not yet), but you can order online or call 647-892-4388 between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., and pay with an Interac transfer. The handling fee is between $1 and $2, with a 90-minute delivery promise—whether you’re in Vaughan, Mississauga, North York, or pretty much anywhere other than south of Bloor.
Afritastes is just one of a lot of Toronto alternatives to the usual apps, which people are getting increasingly wary of.
Founded by Otto’s Bierhalle owner Nav Sangha, this is both a retail site with more than 50 restaurants, and a back-end platform restaurants use to set up their own takeout and, ultimately, delivery operations to free them from the necessity of signing up with the usual suspects. Sangha describes it as Shopify for restaurants.
The most obvious one is the pickup app, Ritual, which may seem like one of the big boys, but is a homegrown option with a heavy sense of community responsibility.
Since June 12, Ritual has been offering restaurants free lifetime commission-free membership.
Like Olorunisola, Ritual has seen the pandemic as the moment to disrupt the disruptors, and take Toronto’s restaurant scene back from the barbarians at the gate.
Those not familiar with Toronto’s Chinese restaurant scene may have seen FOD stickers on windows as they walk along Dundas east of Spadina, or Gerrard east of Broadview, and not thought much more about it.
An acronym for Food On Delivery, they’re a big operation, across Canada and the US, and deliver booze, too.
Founded in Vancouver, this Mandarin-centred app (they apparently had some initial trouble getting Cantonese restaurants to sign on; their name is Mandarin for “rice balls” or “rice rolls” and is a reference to the mainland Chinese mega delivery app Meituan) has become a player.
Based in Markham, this mostly Chinese app offers delivery from about 100 restaurants in what most consider the GTA’s centre for all the best Chinese cuisines.
It will, at first, offer citywide delivery for his 29 restaurants, but ultimately will offer the service to other restaurants (charging 5% commission, in contrast to the big apps’ 30%).
On top of that, it’ll allow young chefs to have their creations delivered straight to diners, while keeping their own costs low, renting communal kitchen space in one of Bhagwani’s underused kitchens.
No name yet, but watch this space. Cloud kitchens, as he calls them, may be the future of Toronto delivery after the pandemocalypse.
Roger Yang, one of the guys behind Pizzeria Du got tired of how much the big apps were pocketing, and decided to do something about it. So he’s getting a group of Toronto restaurateurs together to offer their own delivery app.
If it goes the way Yang wants it to, this could turn out to be one of the main ways people order food in post-pandemic Toronto.
See it. Snap it. Share it. In every neighbourhood, around every corner, through every door
there's something that begs to be discovered in Toronto.
See it. Snap it. Share it. In every neighbourhood, around every corner, through every door there's something that begs to be discovered in Toronto.#OPENYOURCURIOSITY
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