It’s not an unfamiliar question; in fact, odds are, if you, or anyone you know, has ever had relatives visit from outside of town, they’ve probably asked you that very same question, probably in exactly those very same words. Of course, that’s not really what they’re asking. They don’t really want to know what it’s like living in New York because, in their minds, they’ve already got what they believe to be a fairly firm grasp on the situation. They know exactly what it’s like living in New York because, honestly, how could they not? It’s New York, for crying out loud. We’re famous.
Look, even if you’re not from here, you’ve seen the sights, from movies to television shows to advertisements: the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the neon lights that illuminate the streets of Times Square, and the mustard-colored taxi cars that frequent them. At a minimum, you know the nicknames: The Big Apple. The Center of the Universe. The City That Never Sleeps. And with names like that — particularly that last one — come, of course, expectations, with the primary one being convenience. After all, in a city that never sleeps, surely the shops are always open, right? And, more importantly, the restaurants?
In the pre-Internet days (or what most of us millennials refer to as “The Dark Ages”), it wasn’t too uncommon to spot New Yorkers frequenting 24-hour diners at all hours of the night, showing up just as often for the factor of convenience as for the taste of the food. Restaurants like this were, and remain, invaluable for city residents. Some, like waiters and bartenders, work late and/or odd hours and simply aren’t able to get anything to eat until late at night after their shifts finish; others, like maintenance workers or security services, only work at night and sleep during the day so that their lunch hour may fall around when most people are fast asleep. And of course, for those of us who work standard daytime hours, sometimes there’s simply that midnight craving that only fresh-baked apple pie will cure.
Granted, even fifteen years ago, those very same diners, as well as other restaurants open late in the vicinity, did indeed deliver, but it wasn’t exactly convenient. After all, in order to even be able to order from a local restaurant, you first had to know that restaurant’s phone number already; if you didn’t have that number on hand, you might be able to look up the number in the phone book…unless, of course, it was a newly opened restaurant, in which case they wouldn’t be listed. You also needed a physical menu in your possession in order to know what the restaurant even offered, or at the very least needed to know in advance what you planned on ordering, and whether or not the restaurant could make it. Such a solution worked great for, say, delivery veterans who always ordered the exact same thing from their favorite places but otherwise offered very little in terms of customers looking to try new restaurants via delivery. Finally, you also needed to make sure you had enough cash on hand, both to cover the cost of the food as well as any possible delivery fee and additional driver tip. If you remembered to take cash out in advance, you were set. And if you didn’t? Well, in that case, you’d have to go outside to make a trip to the bank, which would defeat much of the point of the convenience of having food delivered directly to your doorstep.
Nowadays, with the advent of online food delivery, many of those concerns have become a thing of the past, and 24-hour diners are hardly the only places that’ll remedy those late-night apple pie cravings anymore. A number of restaurants in New York now offer standard delivery times as late as 10:30 pm at night, with many restaurants delivering into the early hours of the morning, and considering the wide variety of delivery services available to city residents, it’s not as if you have to wonder whether or not a restaurant will deliver to you. GrubHub, Seamless, Postmates, UberEats…whatever your delivery service of choice is, pretty much all of them are able to map your geolocation via your zip code and tell you in an instant how many restaurants nearby are currently open as well as which of them are willing to deliver to you. Simply click a restaurant’s name and you’ve got access to their full menu, from beverages to desserts, entrees to hors d’oeuvres, from your phone, computer, tablet, or virtually any device with an internet connection. When it comes to paying, any one of these services will accept payment via a credit or debit card, including the tip, which renders the precaution of making sure to have cash on hand for the delivery driver practically obsolete. The only beef to be had here is the hidden service fees, cheap food delivery still eludes us.
And so, when it comes to delivery in New York City, you’ve pretty much got it made.
But what happens if you live outside of the city? What if, when your relatives ask you what it’s like living in New York, instead of taxi cars you picture soccer-mom-sized minivans, instead of Times Square you visualize the one shopping mall that’s a good three-mile drive down the road, and instead of forty-four restaurants in your immediate vicinity that are ready to deliver, you’ve got access to perhaps ten, if that?
Such is the unfortunate reality for the rest of us residing in the suburbs. Now, granted, so as not to risk sounding as if we’re knocking them, there is a lot to be said for living in the suburbs. Frankly, we think the suburbs are great: compared to the city, there’s a vast reduction in general people-traffic, which brings with it the reduced anxiety of not having to cram oneself into public transit first thing in the morning. There’s also the increased closeness with nature and with greenery in general, something that you won’t find on an all-concrete sidewalk surrounded by skyscrapers. For that matter, there’s the reduced noise component, as well as the reduction in air pollution in general; to put it simply, the air smells better out here. But one thing we can all agree on is that, when it comes to living outside of Manhattan, the current state of food delivery, particularly in Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island, is severely lacking. How is it lacking?
If you already live in Brooklyn, Queens, or Long Island then this is hardly news to you: the restaurant selection in terms of delivery options, particularly when compared to Manhattan and the New York Metropolitan Area, is poor. We’ve all googled “food delivery near me” before but for those of you that havent outside of Manhattan…The proof is in the pudding — and in the pizza, the onion rings, and the nachos. This, for example, is a screen capture of the results that come up when you search for Times Square’s zip code on GrubHub:
And this is a screen capture of the number of restaurants listed through that same service that deliver to the entire Great Neck New York area, found using Manhasset’s zip code:
Six hundred and ninety-four versus sixty-four! Talk about a discrepancy. Keep in mind, of course, that these results are for every single restaurant serving every single type of cuisine in Great Neck: if you had actual food preferences and were more fond of, say, Italian as opposed to Indian, that number would dwindle even further down.
GrubHub lists sixty-four restaurants as delivering to Great Neck. That’s already a fairly small number for such a large geographic area; however, it may not even be a true number. The actual number may be even less than that. How? Well, first, these were the results for a search performed at approximately noon, a time when almost all restaurants are open so as to capitalize on employees’ lunch hours. Many of these restaurants in the suburbs, however, unlike their city counterparts, tend to close earlier, and so they may unofficially cap deliveries earlier than GrubHub lists. In other words, let’s say that a restaurant in the suburbs doesn’t do deliveries after 8:00pm; even if GrubHub officially has them listed as closing at 10:00pm, if you place your order at, say, 8:15 pm, the restaurant may decide not to take it, and has the freedom to cancel, leaving you, the customer, stranded in the evening without food options. Distance is also a factor: although sixty-four results came up using that particular zip code, if your address falls outside whatever GrubHub has designated as the maximum distance the driver is willing to travel, even if it’s only by a couple blocks, the restaurant won’t show up online as available to deliver to you, even if they technically are available — just not through that particular delivery service.
Let’s say you’ve been going to your favorite Chinese restaurant for years. You know the people there, you know the food items there, and you know for a fact that there’s that one, special, indigenous dish you love; you know, the one that’s not officially listed on the menu and isn’t available to regular customers. Normally, you’d call up the restaurant to order it, but it’s late, you’re tired, and all of your payment information is already logged in a delivery app. You figure it’ll just be easier to use the automated service, but…what’s this? Oh no! That special dish isn’t listed on the digital menu either. That means — yep, you guessed it — there’s no way to order it online. At all. Period. Unfortunately, that applies to any food item that isn’t listed on the digital menu when it comes to services like GrubHub, Seamless and the like. If they haven’t logged it, it can’t be ordered through them.
Tl;dr: delivery outside of the city SUCKS
But what if we told you that it didn’t have to? What if we told you that we had a better way, a superior solution? A service that let you order whatever you wanted, from wherever you wanted it, whenever you wanted it, exactly how you wanted it?
Enter Covet. Founded in the summer of 2017 by Maxwell Drut and Troy Lester, Covet Delivery is the first service of it’s kind: a delivery service operating from the suburbs, for the suburbs. Based locally right here in Long Island, Covet Delivery serves the Long Island area as well as Queens and Brooklyn. And all those problems aforementioned? They aren’t problems with us. Here’s how we’re solving them, one step at a time.
When it comes to availability of restaurants that deliver to the Queens, Long Island and Brooklyn areas, Covet doesn’t operate by any predetermined restaurant listings. As suburbanites ourselves, we’re well aware that not every single restaurant that resides in the suburbs is listed online; in fact, some of the best eats in the area can’t be found through Google, despite local residents raving about them. That’s why, via our app, available now for both iOS and Android, we allow you, the consumer, to enter in any restaurant you’re aware of that operates near you. If they exist, and you know their name, we’ll deliver from there, no questions asked.
Furthermore, unlike our competitors, we don’t go by some predetermined distance algorithm. We’re humans, after all, not robots. Occasionally, we may determine that an address relative to a restaurant is outside of the range our driver is comfortable delivering to and from, in which case, we’ll give you plenty of heads up via text and email, as well as a list of alternative restaurants to order from. However, for the most part, if your home is within a drivable distance from a local restaurant, we’ll deliver to you, even if other online services say they won’t. That same human factor applies to operating hours. Another service may stop taking delivery orders for a restaurant at, say, 9:30 pm, even though that restaurant is officially open until 10:00pm. If you send us a delivery request at 9:45pm, we’ll accept it, and we’ll get the food to you while it’s still hot.
Finally, our key element is choice. Sure, we’ve got an online menu for local restaurants, but none of the menu options are set in stone. Got a gluten-allergy and need to make sure the chow ho fun isn’t made using soy sauce? We can do that. Don’t like the salad dressing and want it on the side? We can do that too. And that special dish you want, the one that other automated delivery services don’t know about and don’t seem to list? We’ve got it. And if we don’t have it, you can drop us a line by phone or email and we’ll make sure to add it.
So, if you’re a suburban resident looking for a food delivery service that rivals, and outperforms, the options available in the urban environment, look no further than here. When it comes to food delivery in the Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island areas, at Covet, we’ve got you covered.
*** This article was written by a contractor and posted by Alain Joseph for Covet. ***