For people without a car craving a massive burger from Five Guys Burgers and Fries, or for those wishing to open their front doors to a burrito from Moe’s, the up-and-coming delivery service Ithaca To Go may be just what the delivery guy ordered.
Ithaca To Go is a new local restaurant delivery service with a fleet of 12 cars driven mostly by Ithaca locals who pick up and deliver food from 15 restaurants that don’t have their own delivery service. Five Guys, Aladin’s, Culture Shock and Kilpatrick’s Publick House are just a few restaurants Ithaca To Go delivers on behalf of.
Vanessa Isaacs and Amy Zarbock started Ithaca to Go four months ago after moving here in the spring. Both founders have had extensive experience in restaurant delivery service long before they set up shop in Ithaca. Zarbock spent five years working for
Valet Gourmet in Ashville, N.C., and Isaacs previously worked for
863-TOGO in Burlington, Vt.
Zarbock said many of her past job experiences helped lay the foundation for this company.
“I’ve been a driver. I’ve been an office manager. I’ve been a customer at a hotel. I’ve seen every facet of this business,” she said. “And that’s what makes us so strong.”
Ithaca To Go handles up to 140 orders a week on average, most of which end up delivered to Ithaca College, followed closely by
Cornell University. Though it has only been using Ithaca To Go for a few weeks, the Rose Tap Room and Grill has been able to sell 15 to 20 orders a week through the restaurant delivery service.
Mary Rector, manager of the Rose, said Isaacs won her over to the idea quickly.
“She sold it based on her experience, having done it in another college town-type environment,” she said. “She seemed to have a handle on what it would take to do one of these companies.”
Zarbock and Isaacs researched the Ithaca area for an entire year to ensure that it would be an ideal location for a restaurant delivery service. Since most restaurant
delivery services center on a college or university, a large student body made Ithaca an ideal location. They also discovered Ithaca had more restaurants per capita than most other cities in the U.S., including New York City.
“I love to be local,” Isaacs said. “That’s my biggest thing that I feel sets us apart. I want all the restaurant owners to have my cell phone. I want them to have my email address. I want them to feel like they can contact me at any time.”
The owners of Ithaca To Go also strive to develop a strong connection with the community, whether it’s with the restaurants or the customers.
Rachel Hockett of Cayuga Heights has been ordering with Ithaca to Go once a week and said she is happy to have them working in the area.
“They’re very friendly,” she said. “If you need to chat with them, they get right online with you and answer questions. They are a nice, very customer-friendly service. And the food comes hot.”
As for the future of Ithaca To Go, Zarbock and Isaacs are excited for their company’s first Ithaca winter. With fewer people going out to eat because of cold wind and icy roads, the winter could stand as Ithaca to Go’s defining season. And the company is preparing for it by getting snow tires for all of its cars and hiring new local drivers, such as Ithaca resident Lewis Oliver, who is familiar with driving in the harsh snow.
“I am very well-prepared, and Ithaca has definitely got some intense weather for them, but they can weather through it,” he said.
The founders of Ithaca To Go are not looking to expand beyond the area right now, but are striving to cultivate a stronger relationship with Ithaca by maintaining a consistently satisfactory performance record and adding more restaurants to their service.
“It is really going to catch on in Ithaca, and it’s really going to stimulate business around here,” Oliver said. “It’s going to open a lot of opportunities for businesses that couldn’t deliver before.”
To view a full list of restaurants Ithaca To Go serves, visit their website at www.ithacatogo.com.