It’s been a few years coming, but Chris Jeffery is finally bringing the food delivery service he co-founded to his hometown.
OrderUp, which started in Baltimore in 2009, gives restaurants an online platform to connect with customers via a smartphone app, using independent contractor drivers. The service launched in Pittsburgh this week, due in large part to Pittsburgh’s headline-grabbing restaurant scene.
Among the 50 restaurants on its Pittsburgh roster are locals like Franktuary, Nine on Nine and the Penn Avenue Fish Company, and chains like Chipotle and Noodles & Company. OrderUp takes a percentage of each order, so restaurants only pay if the app drives business to them.
Here’s how it works: A customer places an order for a chosen restaurant with the OrderUp app or on its website. OrderUp conveys the order to the restaurant, and a driver is summoned when the order is close to completion. OrderUp collects the money and keeps a cut of the total, with the customer paying a delivery fee.
Jeffery, who grew up in Baldwin, hasn’t lived in Pittsburgh for a while but has been back frequently to visit. He’s been impressed with the way the city’s restaurant scene has grown over the past several years. “It’s really a city with an emerging restaurant scene, but not every restaurant can offer delivery.”
The company, which was acquired by Groupon last July, grew out of a similar food delivery company Jeffery and his co-founder Jason Kwicien started on Penn State’s State College campus while the two were students there.
“We started OrderUp to bring the technology to restaurants to help expand their reach outside their four walls,” he says.
While the goal is to deliver food within 35 minutes of ordering, Jeffery says OrderUp is mindful of past pizza delivery companies who ran into problems requiring drivers to deliver within a half hour. Instead, the delivery area is divided into zones, so the nearest driver gets the call.
OrderUp has a small delivery area in Pittsburgh so far; it’s only available Downtown, in Shadyside, Squirrel Hill and Oakland, which includes the campuses of Pitt, Duquesne, CMU and Chatham. The company serves more than 40 markets nationwide.