timberland pro split rock safety boots AK Speed Eats delivers hot food in Fairbanks
FAIRBANKS Taylor Gathman wanted food delivered late one night in January, and he wasn’t happy with the options.
“I am used to California where a bunch of people deliver,” the 26 year old said.
So he started his own food delivery company, AK Speed Eats, earlier this year, offering to deliver food to destinations within about 15 minutes of 14 Fairbanks area restaurants. Ordering is easy. It’s just a few clicks on a smartphone app. The delivery fee is $5. People can pay with a credit card using the app or they can pay in cash to the delivery driver.
AK Speed Eats delivers dozens of lunches across Fairbanks every day from eateries such as The Food Factory, Pita Place, The Chowder House and Pad Thai Restaurant. The company also delivers breakfast from River City Cafe and dinner from most of the restaurants on its list, including The Banks Alehouse, Shogun Hibachi and Lane’s Quickie Tacos.
Gathman said AK Speed Eats was profitable its second month in operation, and he is looking into expanding to other Alaska cities. He also wants to branch out from delivering restaurant food to delivering groceries and other goods that people want.
“Almost everything can be bought with an app,” he said. “You don’t have to wait in line. That’s the way that commerce is going. That’s the way the world is going.”
Gathman graduated from Star of the North charter school after moving up to Interior Alaska with his mother and stepfather, who was stationed at Eielson Air Force Base, when he was 13. Air Force and planned to stay in the military for 20 years but changed his mind because of the long hours 12 to 16 hours a day of work plus training on days off, he said.
Gathman decided that if he was going to work that hard, he would work for himself.
After his honorable discharge from the military, Gathman moved to California to be closer to his parents and later returned to Alaska. He opened AK Speed Eats in July.
Gathman said his approach to building the business boiled down to: “If we were ordering delivery, what would we want?”
The answer was hot food.
“There are reasons why delivery companies have not been here,” Gathman said.”Hot food, that is the biggest thing. People don’t complain if they get hot food.”
He works closely with restaurants to make sure food isn’t sitting around, getting cold, waiting to be delivered. He declined to detail his logistical strategies to maintain a competitive edge.
“If we didn’t have a good system, it would be over. I knew that Fairbanks was a city where if you start wrong, they are going to crucify you,” he said.
Gathman monitors orders and deliveries from his smartphone and communicates with his staff via voice text. He has as many as 20 drivers on the road at one time.
“Everything is about speed,” Gathman said. “I don’t have time to sit here and text.”
He also keeps an eye on what people are saying about AK Speed Eats on Facebook. Gathman takes pride in the company’s 124 five star reviews.
“They were super fast, and my food was hot, crispy and delicious,” one reviewer said.
“The app is user friendly and fast,” another reviewer said. “My food was delivered quickly, and I didn’t have to talk to anyone on the phone.”
AK Speed Eats promises food in about 45 minutes, but drivers often arrive in half that time, Gathman said.
He compensates his drivers better than other food delivery businesses, he said. Drivers are contract workers and their pay is commission based, but Gathman said he guarantees them a minimum of $11.50 an hour. He also keeps drivers’ safety in mind, canceling deliveries when the roads are unsafe.
AK Speed Eats expanded faster than expected, according to Gathman and his girlfriend and business partner, Kayla Hegna.