It’s 8 p.m. on a random Tuesday. You don’t feel like cooking, nor do you want to drag yourself to a restaurant. Now, thanks to the rapidly expanding network of delivery services throughout Southwest Florida, such as Bite Squad, UberEats and apps that individual eateries are creating, you don’t have to. So stay in your fuzzy slippers, bust out your cellphone and start browsing the barbecue, chicken Marsala and kebabs that are calling your name.
This national company took over Naples Express Meals in the spring and has ushered in an exponential burst of expansion, first into North Naples, then Bonita Springs. And, it announced in June that more than 40 restaurants had been added in Fort Myers and Cape Coral. In total, there are currently 170 eateries signed on in the two counties. The way it works is easy: You create an account on the website (or Bite Squad app), browse and click on what you’d like, and voilà. Payment is done with a credit card when you order, and the delivery fee is calculated by how far the restaurant is from where you live.
In a natural avenue of expansion from the dominant taxi-like cellphone-based transportation service, they now have a fleet of drivers who pick up food from participating restaurants and deliver it to your door. It’s a separate app from Uber, but it works more or less the same—you order and pay through the app, and you can track your little car as it zips toward you (it even does deliveries to the beach if you don’t want to interrupt a day of sunning!). There are dozens of choices throughout Lee and Collier counties, and the participating small-business owners, like Jorge Reyes of Rumba Cuban Café, praise the service for its efficiency. “The food is usually ready within 10 minutes of an order being placed, and then the driver takes it wherever it has to go," Reyes says. “It has exceeded our expectations.”
RESTAURANTS WITH IMPROVED IN-HOUSE CAPABILITIES
It’s true that most of the places here that manage their own deliveries are Chinese restaurants and pizzerias—but even they have improved over the years by widening their coverage areas (Panda Pavilion, Charlie Chiang’s, New York Pizza & Pasta, and Napoli on the Bay come to mind). Going a step further, Timeless – an MHK Eatery, the upscale modern American restaurant that launched to much fanfare last year, created its own app to manage deliveries (and take-out)—plus, it has increased its delivery radius so that the signature white Jeep traverses a pretty broad swath of Collier County.