You might have noticed a recent surge in popularity of a certain Little Rock company called Chef Shuttle.
The local restaurant food delivery company was recently purchased by Ryan Herget, Kyle Crossland and Wes Kirtley. The trio of friends has taken the company from one that delivered to less than 10 restaurants in Little Rock to one that delivers to Little Rock, North Little Rock, Sherwood and Maumelle residents from more than 50 restaurants in the four cities.
The idea is simple. When you're at home or the office, hungry and don't want to go out, you go to Chef Shuttle's website, search the menus of the participating restaurants and order your food. From there, Chef Shuttle's dispatch center contacts the restaurant, which prepares the food. Then, one of Chef Shuttle's drivers picks up the food and delivers straight to you, within 60 minutes, all for a $4.95 fee. There is a minimum order of $15.
It's a food option that Herget said he has to continually remind customers is for real.
"Yes, you really only have to spend $5," he says, "you really only have to spend five minutes or less on the website."
For that fee, customers can enjoy food from restaurants like Bruno's Little Italy, Capitol Bistro, Corky's Ribs & BBQ, Cantina Laredo and Mexico Chiquito, among many others, without leaving their homes.
Chef Shuttle operates seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and 5-10 p.m. for dinner.
Herget, Crossland and Kirtley recently partnered with Jason and Stephen LaFrance and Dan Andrews, of Dale Capital Partners in Little Rock. The partnership developed from a delivery to the LaFrances by Herget in February.
"Just having their support, having them there to help us grow, bounce ideas off of, we couldn't be more excited about the future," Herget said.
For the future, Chef Shuttle hopes to continue to add to its current restaurant partnerships in Little Rock, currently at about 35, North Little Rock and Sherwood, at about 15 right now, and Maumelle, which currently has three restaurants.
In addition to adding to the current operation, Herget wants the company to continue to expand. Benton, Bryant and Conway are the first three areas Chef Shuttle hopes to reach.
Herget says he hopes the company is into Benton and Bryant by the end of May, and into Conway by mid-June.
"We're growing fast," he said. "We want to keep expanding, and we have a game plan mapped out, but it keeps changing because of the growth."
Chef Shuttle also hopes to soon have a mobile application to allow customers another avenue to order food from home or at work. Herget says the application is still about two months away from being released.
Here's a Q&A that Little Rock Soirée conducted with Herget:
Little Rock Soirée: Are you surprised no one else has done this before to this extent in Little Rock?
Ryan Herget: "Not really, because I wouldn't recommend anybody trying to do it. There is a lot of work. It takes a good core of people to make it happen, because there are so many moving parts, and really, you don't have control over anything. What I mean by that is, the restaurants have control over the food and when it leaves their kitchen, drivers, while you can control where they are, we don't know what traffic is going to be like. No day is the same. I can see why it has not been done before, but, luckily, with the people we have in our office, the partnerships we've made, we've been able to find something that works and we're going to stick to it."
LRS: What was that first week of business like?
RH: "That first week was hectic. We were calling friends in to drive, we didn't know what to expect. My mom has driven. She asked me on Easter, 'hey, when am I going to drive again.' I told her it would come one of these days."
LRS: What is one goal for the future you are really hoping to achieve?
RH: "I've always been excited about growing, trying to get established in Arkansas where we are a household name. I'm most excited to see these drivers get promoted, and start coming on as full-time employees of Chef Shuttle. We've got drivers lined up, ready to go. That's a motivating factor for me."
LRS: Do you think this company could grow out of central Arkansas, and across the state?
RH: "Absolutely, we've got the secret sauce. We do things differently. Our motivation is not our financial statement, it's making sure everybody is happy. It's just different. If someone is not happy, we'll do whatever we can to make it better. We're different than your average business. If we can really keep it about the customer experience, I don't think there is a limit."
For more on Chef Shuttle, check out this article on the website of our sister publication, Arkansas Business.