Garrett Peckler double checks details on an order.
Garrett Peckler double checks details on an order.

Monroe’s first food delivery service launched last Tuesday. Snohomish resident Garrett Peckler has been working for the past nine months to open a local branch of My Town 2 Go, which operates in 18 states across the United States.

The 27-year-old said he researched other options before settling on the Iowa-based company. He said it has allowed him to provide a website ordering platform, so customers can download an app or go online to place a request, among other reasons.

“I chose My Town 2 Go because part of their core values is to support local, and that just resonates with me,” he said.

The young entrepreneur’s family moved to Monroe when he was 4 years old. He graduated from Monroe High School, and said for a long time he had anticipated starting an establishment in his hometown that backs other local businesses.

The idea initially came up when Peckler started driving for Sahara Pizza in Monroe when he was 15. He caught a glimpse of the need for a similar service. Since then, he has driven for San Francisco-based UberEATs in Bellevue and Kirkland.

Almost every restaurant in those areas is signed up with at least one food delivery service, Peckler said. Some are partners with half a dozen, he said.

The country’s food delivery industry’s worth is estimated in the tens of billions. Major national companies, such as GrubHub, Eat24 and BiteSquad, serve areas in the Puget Sound, and others like Seattle-based Lish are expanding as well.

Peckler said the industry is quickly moving toward instant delivery. It is likely only a matter of time before the bigger companies move into the Sky Valley. He said he wants to make sure the local businesses have a good platform to work with before they come in and sign up with the large chains that already have a leg up in the market.

So far, one restaurant, Bella Balducci’s Mediterranean Cuisine, has signed on with Peckler. He said he has been flexing his skills in sales by approaching businesses in town to partner with him.

Ramin Rafiei said he wanted to hug Peckler when he came into the store to pitch his new business. The Balducci’s co-owner is also a young entrepreneur like Peckler. He and his cousin bought the business in Monroe when he was 21. This year, on his 26th birthday, Rafiei and his brother, who purchased their cousin’s share, opened a second location in Kirkland.

The brothers have worked with BiteSquad, UberEATS and DoorDash at their southern site. Rafiei said he has had a hard time convincing the companies to partner with him out in Monroe.

Rafiei said he has wanted to add a delivery option for his customers for some time. Food delivery services save time and money, such as the need to cross train employees is eliminated, he said.

Usually, what percentage the supplying business is being charged by the delivery company per delivery is less than or equal to what the labor costs would be if it was one of their own drivers, Rafiei said. It also means no drivers are getting paid while they wait for a call during a lull, he said.

Peckler said he has experienced some skepticism when talking with business owners. He said it may take some time for people to warm up to the idea and see that it is a viable model.

“I think the hesitation is mostly people are wondering if a town like Monroe will support delivery services,” he said. “I still think of Monroe as a small town, and I think a lot of people do, but, when you take a step back and think, you see Monroe is not even close to a small town anymore.”

Rafiei said he thinks Monroe is ready and the demand is there.

There is very little risk partnering with food delivery services, Rafiei said. Because the delivery companies have clientele of their own that the restaurant may not be able to reach by other means, the partnership can also serve as a good form of advertisement, he said.

Peckler’s business will drop off orders anywhere within eight miles of the restaurant they were purchased from. His coverage is only in Monroe currently, but the plan is to expand to Lake Stevens and Snohomish by December, he said.

Eventually, Peckler expects to reach Sultan and communities further east on U.S. Highway 2. He said more than likely he will end up drawing a boundary line near the Sultan’s McDonald’s at the roundabout.

Peckler said anyone further out, however, would be able to meet him or one of his drivers at a location on or west of that boundary line — as long as it is at an established and open business. Currently, he will drive down Old Owen Road, almost out to Sultan, and toward Duvall, but the cutoff is the end of the Lewis Street Bridge.

The hope is to be making deliveries to Sultan by the start of 2018, Peckler said. He said while his business emphasizes partnerships with local businesses, menus from larger chains like Subway will also be listed.

Peckler said within the first week My Town 2 Go has already been making deliveries, although there has been some downtime. He signs confidentiality agreements with restaurants, so he said he can’t disclose how many.

Rafiei said he told his new partner to reach out to Monroe’s larger employers, such as EvergreenHealth Monroe or the Monroe Correctional Complex, which have hundreds of employees, many of whom don’t have enough time to pick up food during their lunch break.

Peckler did say he was surprised that most orders have come during lunchtime. He said he was expecting more in the dinner hours.

The support he has received from the community so far has also been encouraging. Rafiei said his initial impression of Peckler is that he is straightforward and honest, which are both predictors of a business that is going to last in Monroe.