MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Tony Delivers provides a local alternate to food delivery in Seattle

Feb 12, 2024, 5:32 AM | Updated: 5:32 am

tony delivers...

Uber Eats takeaway delivery cycle courier on August 15, 2023. (Photo: Mike Kemp/Getty Images)

(Photo: Mike Kemp/Getty Images)

The spirit of free enterprise is alive and well and servicing downtown Seattle.

When the city’s “PayUp” ordinance, guaranteeing a basic wage for app-based delivery drivers, went into effect in January, it prompted many food delivery services to increase the fees they charge customers.

Tony Illes began delivering for DoorDash and UberEats in Los Angeles in 2019, and he used to make good money, schlepping schwarmas and burgers to hungry tech workers and city dwellers.

“I made up to 12, 13, 14 deliveries an hour when it was raining,” Illes said.

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But, when the 30-year-old Washington State University grad started losing customers due to the high costs of food delivery within the state, he decided to seize the moment, deploy his e-bike and start his own delivery service. This month, Tony Delivers was born.

“I’m not making any money on UberEats and DoorDash,” Illes said. “So, I decided to open up shop, cut out the middle man, help the consumer and help myself.”

The good news is he’s charging one basic fee for each delivery — “five dollars flat.” Illes doesn’t even expect a tip, expecting to make money from sheer volume instead.

“There’s probably within any hour, per hour, two to three hundred deliveries, minimum,” Illes said. “I figure I can service a lot of those customers.”

On Illes’ website, customers schedule a delivery time, then go to the restaurant’s website and order food directly from them. The customer provides a screenshot of the order to Tony Delivers, and as long as both the restaurant and customer are within the same delivery area, Tony will pick up the food and bring it to the hungry customer. He accepts Apple Pay, Google Pay and cash.

Because it’s just Tony and his bike, he’s limited the delivery area to Seattle’s SLU, Belltown, Denny Triangle, Downtown, Cascade and Lower Queen Anne neighborhoods.

Customer service is incredibly important to Illes, who believes customers aren’t making any personal connections with their app-based meal providers.

“There’s kind of a disconnect (with them),” Illes said. “I think that I could brighten your day. It’s like, ‘oh! I’m happy to see this guy.'”

Ultimately, Illes said he’s hoping to change the whole customer experience.

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“You want mostly positive experiences, and that’s what I think I could provide that as a young entrepreneur,” Illes added. “And, I hope to be able to help other people who have similar aspirations to me.”

If you do want to tip Tony on top of the $5 fee, he won’t turn you down. He wants it to be your choice though and doesn’t want it to feel forced.

“More of just, ‘hey Tony, you did a great job, you made my day, here’s (another) five bucks ’cause I was having a bad day at work,” Illes said.

You can read more of Lisa Brooks’ stories here. Follow Lisa on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

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Tony Delivers provides a local alternate to food delivery in Seattle