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'We want it to be a win-win between us and restaurants': Groups, delivery companies rally to support local eateries

"We now offer contact-less delivery," Ward said. "So, in the delivery instructions, you can just choose to have it dropped off."

ST. LOUIS — When Alex Ward took over as the owner of Food Pedaler last year, the goal was to provide service to Downtown St. Louis and Central West End customers ordering in while also supporting and showcasing local eateries in those areas. 

While the mission has not changed, the service, featuring delivery drivers on bicycles, has had to expand to accommodate and increased demand for food delivery as people stay home during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

"We now offer contact-less delivery," Ward said. "So, in the delivery instructions, you can just choose to have it dropped off."

Ward said, since the service has been offered, they're not only seeing an uptick in orders in general but also for the contact-free method of delivery. The company's network includes 15 restaurants downtown and 16 eateries in Central West End, 

While there a number of larger food delivery options for customers, Ward said Food Pedaler is hyper-local and completely based on community relationships. 

"I go into the restaurants myself and talk with the owners or GMs of those restaurants, that way it's not just a faceless organization," Ward said. 

With uncertainty looming over small businesses, Ward said he and his "pedalers" will continue to support restaurants, even offering their online ordering technology to restaurants without their own system. Ward said they are also open to interviewing people who are currently out of work and interested in joining the team. 

"A lot of people are going to be out of work, temporarily I hope," Ward said. "If anyone out there is an avid cyclist, I think they would be a great fit."

Meanwhile, Explore St. Louis launched "STL Take It Home". The website and initiative is a collaboration with elected officials, business leaders and leaders in the food industry to provide resources for customers and the restaurant industry. Along with safety tips for both parties, the site has a real-time list of restaurants around the Greater St. Louis area that are offering curbside order pick-up and delivery service. 

Explore St. Louis is asking customers who to use the hashtag #STLTakeItHome and show their orders online as a greater social media campaign to support local business owners, servers, chefs and bartenders.

Additionally, the group has set up the Gateway Independent Business Resilience Fund to support the region’s restaurants and its employees. Customers can donate on the website while placing their orders, and all of the money will go directly to those who support during this time.  

“St. Louis is fortunate to have so many neighborhood restaurants that support our communities; now is the time for us to support them back,” said Brian Hall, CMO of Explore St. Louis. “The STL Take It Home portal was developed to make it easier to keep restaurants and residents connected. We can each do our part; it will take us all to weather this storm.”

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