MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Catherine Rego is living the dream.
“I’m surprised. This company has given me so many opportunities and the sky is the limit,” said Rego, a Waitr driver.
That company is Waitr, founded by a group of friends in Lake Charles, Louisiana, five years ago, and today, it’s exploding.
“We are now in Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi," said Waitr Regional Manager Shaun Tousignant.
And sevenother states, 185 markets, 230 cities with 3,000 drivers just like Catherine Rego.
“I oversee 160 drivers. I know the drivers by name and they know me," Rego said.
And a growing list of restaurants in Montgomery known as Waitr partners know Catherine.
Inside the Cahawba House Restaurant in Montgomery, the ring alerted Tim Essary that an order just came in, a sound that’s become magical on this busy day.
“I would say 20 percent per day. We get a lot," said Essary.
Essary admitted he was skeptical about signing up with Waitr because he had reservations about the concept - would the food arrive in time, would it still be hot and could you trust the driver.
“After the first couple of days, we said ‘okay," Essary said.
That was one year ago. Today, Tim Essary is more than okay with it. The downtown Montgomery business has grown about 7 percent, according to Essary.
“The demand had been there long before the technology. I think people had wanted something like this and now technology is catching up. The use of cellphones and smartphones," Essary said.
Marty Bean of the Front Porch in Millbrook says he, too, has seen a bump in business.
“I would say about 10 percent especially in the winter time when weather is an issue,” said Bean.
The app is quite informative. It walks the customer through every step of the way and the app is complete with colorful food photos from that particular restaurant.
“It tells the customer when I’ve arrived," Rego said.
And when the food is on the way. With her trusty Waitr bag, Catherine Rego drove to her destination about 10 minutes away where she delivered the meat and three hot and ready for Sandra Passmore for a $5 flat fee. No money changed hands when Rego delivered the order. That’s all done through the Waitr app.
“That decreases the (crime) risk," said Tousignant.
This is not to say, however, hiccups don’t happen from time to time.
“If there’s an issue they address it at the drop, so if something is not right, they’re going to fix it before they leave," said Rego.
The driving force behind the revolution is convenience. Shipt is another internet-based delivery service and works the same way. It’s based in Birmingham. The customer orders groceries with a partnered store, pays for it through the app and Jennifer Flatness gets the call and goes shopping.
“I like knowing I am providing a service for someone. Shipt charges $99 a year for a membership fee, and after that as long as you order $35 worth of groceries they won’t charge you a delivery fee,” Flatness said.
And that’s more than worth it for Amy Pickett whom Flatness delivered to on this day.
“It would be a struggle. There would be times I would have to buy two or three weeks at a time because I can’t go to the store and at times somebody else would go for me from my family," said Pickett.
Much like Waitr, Shipt offers same day service and for Waitr drivers such as Catherine Rego, she’s doubled her pay, working her own hours and left two jobs to do this.
“I didn’t give up anything. It’s something I wanted to do. I’d do it again in a heartbeat" said Rego.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking at first, not knowing who I was going to deliver to, not knowing these people ahead of me.. other than that I’ve been grocery shopping my whole life, so it seemed like an easy fit for me," said Flatness.
Jennifer Flatness, Catherine Rego; two local faces for Shipt and Waitr on the road and giving new meaning to front door service.
Waitr and Shipt aren’t the only games in town when it comes to modern-day transportation and food delivery service. You also have growing companies such as Uber and Lyft.