Food Delivery Disruptor: Local Company Aims to be Lower Cost for Restaurants

One shoreline business is looking to upend the current business model

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If you’re trying to buy local during the coronavirus pandemic, chances are you’ve ordered restaurant food online and had it delivered to your home.

While larger companies have dominated delivery service in recent years, a new, Connecticut based business has been gaining a foothold.  Shoreline Menus has taken advantage of an environment where there are a growing number of complaints nationally, from both consumers, and restaurants, over the high cost and fees from many of the national delivery chains.

Shoreline Menus said it has a lower fee structure for restaurants. 

“We start at 20% and we drop it down from there," co-founder Alex Foulkes said.  Restaurants can get lower fees if they elect to invest and become a partner in Shoreline Menus.

Foulkes said national restaurant delivery companies charge 30%, and up.  “

You’re generally starting at 30% usually there’s a signup fee, usually there’s a technology installation package fee.  So it’s high.”

Foulkes should know.  He also co-owns The Penny Lane Pub in Old Saybrook and said he found a niche when he saw how the larger delivery companies treated him.

To-go orders about to be delivered from Old Saybrook restaurant

He recounted a day when he had a spike in orders after a national delivery company posted his menu online, and then he said it took orders without his knowledge, causing lots of problems. 

“They had outdated information, they had the wrong menu items," he recalled.

So Foulkes co-founded Shoreline Menus 15 months ago. Now the delivery service has over 30 restaurants people can order from, and more eateries are signing up, looking for a local delivery alternative.  While his pub business has struggled during the coronavirus pandemic, his delivery business has surged, though he thought long before coronavirus came here that his idea was a winner. 

“The fact that this happened now has just sort of expedited the process”, Foulkes said.

In the central part of the state, Phil Barnett, co-owner of the Hartford Restaurant Group, which owns a series of Wood N’ Tap locations, said of the national food delivery chains, “The third parties, unfortunately have become a necessary evil.”

Barnett said coming up with its own delivery service, or a regional one like Shoreline Menus, is something he is thinking about.  For now though, the big push is just getting some of its outdoor seated business back up and running.   On May 20 Connecticut will allow restaurants to reopen with limited outdoor seating.

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