Tony Delivers reaches 750 customers as delivery apps rage war against Seattle

May 12, 2024, 2:58 PM

tony delivers...

We Deliver with Doordash, Uber Eats, sign on door of restaurant. (Photo: Lindsey Nicholson, Getty Images)

(Photo: Lindsey Nicholson, Getty Images)

If you’ve ordered restaurant food from one of the apps like DoorDash, GrubHub or Uber Eats in the city of Seattle — you know delivery prices have gone way up this year.

Delivery app companies have tacked on additional fees in response to the city’s law guaranteeing earnings for the delivery drivers. Those companies say revenues have dropped since the law was enacted Jan. 13. Drivers say orders are also way down.

More on delivery app fees: Seattle looks to change controversial gig worker law

In response, Seattle City Council President Sara Nelson proposed making some changes to the ordinance, reducing the wage guarantees and mileage reimbursements to drivers. But, it does not require the app companies to reduce their added fees. After listening to testimony over multiple weeks, a council committee has approved sending the matter to the full council.

But, one delivery guy, Tony Illes isn’t affected by any of this.

A few months ago, he started his own delivery company, “Tony Delivers,” where he promises to bring a customer’s food within a limited delivery area for a flat fee of $5.

More on Tony Delivers: Tony Delivers provides a local alternative to food delivery in Seattle

I wanted to check in to see how his business is going amid all this delivery angst.

“It’s been a hundred days,” Illes said. “Feels good. We’re doing well. I got a lot of orders, maybe too many for myself to handle.”

Because the city is at odds over whether to DoorDash or not, Tony maintains hour-by-hour, his earnings are steady.

“I’m probably making more than minimum wage,” Illes said. “On average, during the average hour. But, 80% of a restaurant’s earnings (are) probably within peak hours, and my earnings follow suit with that.”

He’s learned a few things along the way.

Illes has a limited Downtown-Lower Queen Anne-SLU delivery area, with approximately 70 restaurants to choose from. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is his flat fee.

All orders used to be just $5, but because somebody took advantage of the service, he now charges 10% of an order’s price if it’s more than $50.

“The order was too large. I could hardly handle it. Five bucks for $300,” Illes said. “I don’t know, so I was just like, ‘I’m going to tack a little fee onto it.”

Illes’ days are busy. He occasionally stays home and dispatches somebody else to take the scooter and the food to the customer. They get to keep the delivery fee and any tips. He doesn’t earn anything those days — other than the goodwill of the customer.

He’s been keeping a close watch on the Seattle delivery app driver ordinance. But, Illes said even if the full council votes to change the rules and app companies voluntarily drop their fees, he’ll keep plugging away.

“I’ve delivered to almost 750 people,” he laughed. “I don’t believe for a second even a third of those people are ever going back to the big delivery apps.”

It’s pretty clear Illes is no fan of the business model of the big delivery apps. In the end, he believes the little guy will win.

More from Lisa Brooks: Late-night dessert delivery service expanding to U-District for college cravings

“Food delivery is here to stay, forever,” Illes said. “I disagree with them in the sense that it has any potential to be more than just smaller businesses working together. I don’t think that it (the business model) works at that big a scale.”

The Seattle City Council Committee made a few changes to the newly-proposed ordinance last Thursday. The full council is scheduled to take up the matter on May 21.

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 reaches 750 customers as delivery apps rage war against Seattle