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Panda House owner Lina Lin prepares a to-go order on Friday. 

For some restaurants in Sahuarita and Green Valley, delivery service has become essential to stay afloat. Some are turning to third-party service apps like Postmates or the new, local Foodie Magoo’s, while others are handling deliveries with their own staffs. It all comes down to cost and service. 

Using Postmates

Denny’s in Sahuarita is signed up to use Postmates, and while manager Pam Everett sees the value, the lack of drivers has been an issue, she said.

“We would like more drivers because we have a lot of elderly people who would use it but a driver has to be in the area,” she said. “Sometimes orders sit here for four hours if a driver ever comes. It's frustrating for customers and sometimes they don't ever get it and call us.”

Everett said when an order comes in they have 20 minutes to fill it and food often gets cold as they wait for a driver to arrive.

“It's a shame,” she said. “They could expand their business and income if they opened up and were more reliable.”

Tiffany Ford started driving for Postmates about five months after accepting a new job that came with a pay cut.

“For me personally, it’s just extra cash for me so I can live a comfortable lifestyle that I prefer,” she said. “With my full-time job, I can pay my bills; Postmates is extra cash for extra spending.”

Ford said she averages five to six orders within a two-hour timeframe in the area and Sahuarita and Green Valley have fewer opportunities than Tucson.

“More often than not, it’s kind of slow to me,” she said. “I think it’s because for a while we didn’t offer delivery services out here so a lot of people are still unaware that this option is now available.”

What she earns is based on a variety of factors including if it is a “high delivery time,” miles driven and how long she may be waiting at a restaurant for an order. She said the majority of her earnings ultimately come from tips.

Twist and Shout 50s Diner is on the Postmates website, but owner Greg Hansen said he never signed up for the service and was unaware his business was listed.

To his knowledge, they have never received an order through Postmates or a delivery driver coming in to pick up an order.

“We do a fair amount of carry out but no one has ever identified themselves as Postmates,” he said.

Hansen has considered delivery, but is only doing dine-in and pickup. If they ever implemented delivery it would be bulk orders or deliveries to businesses.

“There's a reason we haven't done it yet; I’m not sure how big the demand is,” he said. “For it to work for us, in our mind, we’d have to have delivery of five or more orders to allow us to offer it at a competitive price that would make sense for a family or business, and for me.”

As far as being listed on Postmates, he has concerns a customer may be unhappy if they think they can order delivery from Twist and Shout and not receive it.

“I would tell the consumer to be careful,” he said. “I don’t know anything about Postmates.”

Foodie Magoo’s

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Foodie Magoo's ribbon cutting at the Green Valley Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center. 

In Sahuarita, 15 restaurants and counting have opted for a new, local delivery service called Foodie Magoo’s.

The business launched a month ago (www.foodiemagoos.com) and owner Erik Scholl said they offer something that apps like Postmates don’t — support and lower commission fees.

“Our goal is to cover Sahuarita and Green Valley completely and eventually Nogales, Rio Rico and Arivaca,” he said. “We plan to hire more drivers but it depends on growth, how long it takes.”

Scholl is offering delivery to restaurants who partner with no commission on the delivery for a month. If a restaurant likes the service, they can continue and will be charged a 10 percent commission, a rate Scholl said is less than the national apps.

He said services like Grubhub and Uber Eats can charge 20 to 30 percent in fees.

“It’s never under 20 percent,” he said. “We, being a local company, are just relying on local restaurants so we can charge significantly less and make a good margin. Local revenue stays here versus going to the CEO of Uber Eats.”

Postmates did not respond to several requests for information.

Scholl has a background in food, moving this year to Sahuarita from Alaska, where he owns a restaurant. He said Foodie Magoo’s also offers additional extras.

Their drivers wear uniforms, they put a tamper-free sticker on every bag and when someone orders contactless delivery the order is placed on a small folding table so customers don’t have to bend down for their food.

Originally, Scholl had planned to begin Foodie Magoo’s in July, but COVID-19 created a heightened need for restaurants to implement delivery and he sped up the process. They have four drivers and are making about 20 to 30 deliveries a day. They’re offering free delivery to customers temporarily as they work to gain recognition in the community.

Scholl said they will have to charge in the future, but Foodie Magoo’s will continue to charge restaurants and consumers less than Postmates.

“With Postmates here, the problem is there are not enough drivers who sign on so when a customer goes to the site they see ‘unavailable,’” he said. “Customers rarely go back or put in an order if it keeps getting canceled. We always have a driver on from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.”

Scholl also said they offer quick support to restaurants and users. 

Ragazzi’s is one of the restaurants to join with Foodie Magoo’s and manager Reyna Leon said it has been a much-needed help.

The limited staff were handling delivery orders on their own before joining up.

“Because they’re a local partner, we are with them and they’re professional and amazing,” she said. “It’s a relief for us, especially when we’re busy because we don't have enough people to deliver food. The owners and myself were delivering.”

Though they offered delivery pre-COVID-19, it was challenging doing it on their own. They’ve had more delivery orders now and with the cost of supplies increasing, saving money has been important.

“Everything increased — meat chicken, even pork — everything is just rising and it’s very surprising, customers realize it as well,” she said. “Now these people (Foodie Magoo’s) are professionals and have all the tools we don't.”

On their own

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Panda House employee Brenda Morales takes an order over the phone. 

Panda House began to offer deliveries a few years ago, but it’s become one of the largest parts of their business.

Owner Lina Lin said right now they are getting more delivery orders than anything else.

“Right now, we pick up more delivery service than usual because right now we offer free deliveries,” she said. “Since COVID-19 started in March, I came up with the idea of doing free delivery so people will stay home, just to protect them and us.”

Lin has never opted for third-party delivery apps. 

“Big corporations have apps like that but they take a commission,” she said. “For us, a small business, we can't afford it. I can't do something like that because we’re just a small family business.”

Jamie Verwys | 520-547-9728