Benjamin LaRue and Brittani Wilkerson are the go to people at The Corner Bakery for deliveries in the downtown Mill Ave area.
[Will Powers] Benjamin LaRue and Brittani Wilkerson are the go to people at The Corner Bakery for deliveries in the downtown Mill Ave area.

There’s a horde of hungry young office workers and college students in Tempe who just want a nice lunch and a decent dinner.

But they’re not motivated to hike two blocks, especially on a sweltering day, just to get to the parking garage. They’re not thinking about idling on the clogged streets of Downtown Tempe or hunting for open parking meters. They’re not going to dial up a pizza delivery by default, like their parents did a century ago.

Recognizing this mind-set, and the pent-up demand, savvy fast-casual restaurants in Tempe are doing what it takes to get their meals to customers’ offices and apartment doors.

Frank Lara, vice president of operations for Chompies, said the restaurant has seen an increase of 4,000 orders per week since partnering with DoorDash. Most of that volume is coming from the Tempe store on University Drive, he said, but a few customers in Scottsdale, North Phoenix, Chandler and Glendale are also using the service.

Lara said Chompies charges delivery customers the regular menu price and pays DoorDash a small commission on each order. DoorDash tacks on a $4-$5 delivery charge. Customers can order through the DoorDash smartphone app or via the Web.

Alicia Arias, a junior business communication student at ASU, is a big fan. She said she frequently orders bagels and omelets from Chompies to get her started in the morning, and matzo ball soup and other comfort foods in the afternoon.

When she’s in more of a Mediterranean mood, she said she uses DoorDash to order from California Pizza Kitchen and Hummus Xpress and doesn’t mind the delivery charge.

“It just saves so much time when I’m studying and have too much to do,” she says

Lara said he compared other app delivery services—and he’s still being courted by others—but “DoorDash seemed to be the one that fit us just right. For my staff, it’s just like putting together another order. The transaction is all taken care of. There’s less chance for error. I’m very pleased.”

David Long, owner of Blue Mountain Cafes, which operates the Corner Bakery Cafe on South Mill Avenue, said he evaluated a variety of delivery apps, too. Going that route would have cut too far into his margins, he said, or would have made the cost to the customer too high. Plus, he didn’t like the idea of losing control of the meal once it left the restaurant.

His uniformed drivers, who nimbly zip around Tempe on a golf cart, are now a familiar and welcome sight to office workers in the Hayden Ferry area.

Andrea Bryant, client services manager at Momentum Financial Partners on East Rio Salado Parkway, said she’d never tried Corner Bakery until a few weeks ago when she heard about the delivery option. Now, she and her three co-workers order chopped salads, paninis and other menu items about three days a week.

Long said the cafe is making 30 to 40 deliveries per week Monday through Friday. He said he wants to perfect office delivery before considering residential service.

“We wanted to make sure we get it right,” he said, “because customers don’t give you a second chance in this business.”

Corner Bakery delivery service requires a $8 minimum order, and delivery is free until the end of August. After that, there will be a $3 flat fee. The Downtown Tempe delivery area includes Mill Avenue, Arizona State University, Rio Salado and across the bridge to SRP.

– Mike Butler, East Valley Tribune / Edited for Phoenix.org

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