Burger delivery joint

Joined Dec 23, 2002
So an idea popped into my head a little while ago. I was thinking about starting up a nighttime burger delivery place. It would be pretty much the same old same old as you see everywhere. Burgers, fries, cheese sticks........ Pretty much prepacked stuff I am thinking.... Mabye not though who know... So anyway I was hoping someone could break it down for me on why this is a bad idea. I would do all the cooking myself, probably have one employee for delivery at first. With plenty of friends to call if I get in a serious bind in the first couple weeks, then take it from there depending on how its doing. I was thinking about aproaching one of my local restaurants that closes after lunch. I'm not sure what I would expect to pay monthly to rent a kitchen in a small restaurant. Nor am I sure if anyone would even consider renting it. I live in a college town and this would probably only be viable during the school year.... Again not sure.

Sorry about the huge ramble and I'm sure I'll think of some more stuff... But for now please go ahead and shatter my dream.:cry:

You people don't seem to pull any punches and thats what I'm looking for. Thanks for taking the time to read all this if you made it this far down. And if you skipped to the end shame on you.
Joined May 26, 2001
Oh, Tiny, the last thing we want to do is shatter anyone's dream.:p

Okay, that said, now I can bring you back to harsh reality:
Have you done a business plan???
Do you know what all your costs will be:
  1. Rent & utilities & cartage
  2. Insurance
  3. Raw ingredients (not just buying the food, but waste
  4. Packaging
  5. Wages, payroll taxes, and fringes
  6. Advertising/promotion
  7. Insurance
  8. Delivery costs (how are you going to get the food to the customers on a timely basis?)
  9. oh, and did I mention Insurance ? ;) [/list=1]

    Do you have some ideas of where you might get your starting capital from? What about possible sales volume?

    I know it may look as though I'm trying to discourage you :eek: :mad: but truly I'm not. Remember that running a food business is first of all running a business and then, way down the line, it's about the food. I think it's a great idea, actually, but in order to succeed you have to do a lot of research and planning.

    This is a tough, tough business -- but there's nothing as wonderful as feeding people and making them happy. Keep in touch, you hear? :D
Joined Dec 12, 2000
The first thing that you need to look at is your location, ask your self, is there adequate parking, is there heavy enough foot traffic for take out orders ??.
being in a college town, will you be able to find a spot close to the campus ??. What type of hours do intend to be open ??.
Marketing is another thing to consider, you can have a great product, but how are you going to get people to buy it ??
just some things to ponder.
Joined Apr 26, 2001
that you map out expected costs, especially number 8 - delivery cost. I'm not sure what you would plan on charging for a hamburger, but it seems to me that delivery would run very high as a percentage of the price your clientele would except as a price for a hamburger. You would probably have to establish a minimum order for delivery that would exceed just a hamburger. (As a comparison, what do delievered pizzas run in your area?)

Your trade-off seems to include the simplicity of offering a limited menu with the problem of keeping the clientele interested in the limited offerings. I suspect a hamburger delivery, without some other entree offerings, would run into the problem of everyone in a household not wanting to eat the same thing, so deciding not to order hamburgers. Pizza seems to have overcome that - if you're ordering take-out pizza, everyone knows that they're getting pizza and not steak, roast chicken or what have you. But have hamburgers? "Let's order a takeout hamburger." "Oh, I don't eat red meat." "I'm on a low-fat diet, so let's order pizza instead; it's low-fat." [Yes, I've heard that. And yes, I'm aware of the irony in it.]

How much would the business picture change if you offered a little broader selection, say some hot and cold sandwiches and maybe a couple of salads? That way, X could pig out on a burger, while Y could feel virtuously superior nibbling on a salad. With that scope of offerings, your competition would be other restaurants that deliver at night. Are there such things in your area? (There are in the Washington DC area, where I live.) If not, the market may be hard to gauge (although a college town seems like a natural for that kind of stuff). If so, the competition needs to be evaluated.

It all comes back to the basic idea that you need to have enough stuff that people will order big enough to cover the extra cost of delivery. I could also second a point that Coolj's reply suggested. Remembering back a horrifying number of years to my own college days, going out for a burger was not just a way to get a burger, but also a way to get out of the room before I went stir-crazy. College towns have a late-night crowd that could make walk-in traffic possible if you're positioned right. It's a lot more profitable if you can sell a burger that was priced for delivery to a walk-in customer. Location is king if that's a part of your plan.
Joined Apr 19, 2001
Can't add much to what everyone above said, but here's another little thought. How do you plan on keeping the food warm and appetizing? Having ordered 'delivery' burgers from pretty good restaurants, they always arrive half-cold, with congealed cheese, and soggy buns. I hate soggy buns!

Merry Christmas to all!


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
It will be a gamble crossing over into the delivery market. Bear in mind that you are trying to grab market share on two separate fronts... burgers and delivery. First, to grab customers from Burger King you're going to have to play their price war. Can you match the dollar whopper with a dollar Tiny Tim? Second, you have to have a pretty darn good burger.

You're also fighting it out with pizza delivery joints who have the national resources to outspend you on everything. Come to think of it, everyone will. You will have to find some way to overcome this. Most small business resort to guerilla marketing tactics.

So to sum it up, I don't think it will work. But then I'm wrong about half the time! :D

Joined Jul 28, 2001
Well I'm wrong all the time and I love soggy burgers!
I personally feel that your delivery should be secondary income to your good burger joint. It'll be frustrating waiting for that phone to ring. ABSOLUTELY! job out your delivery on a contractual basis.
Depending on your area it will run you 1000 burgers every 6 months to insure a driver in your vehicle(IF you are accident free).
We have "Food Taxi" in our area that works pretty well. You order entrees,apps,desert etc. from a combination of menues from different restaurants. The taxi has it worked out with each different place on computer. I can order a burger from chili's, thai food fro Phong's, a nice dish from macoroni grill etc. They coordinate it, order it, pick it up and deliver it in a timely fashion. You pay a little extra for de3livery but the choices are great.
Joined Oct 19, 2002
Okay. Dream shattering time... and I read the whole trip. Burgers and fries? What'll those fries be like by the time they get there? And think about this. Who is suddenly going to get the urge to have this stuff delivered? Pizza? Yeah. Chinese? Yeah. Burgers? .... With wilted fries?

I hate to be a dream buster, but after thirty plus years of being in business (non-cooking) I've seen myself do this countless times. Wake up in the morning and lie there in bed with, "Why didn't I think of this before? Why hasn't somebody done this?"

It might take a couple of days before I get it worked out of me. But, fortunately, reality strikes before I spend some serious time and money.

Not to say that you, or I, can't wake up some morning with a truly dynamite idea that will work - and make a mess of money while giving customers a great product or service. I just don't think this is it.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
I agree with Nick....soggy fries are not a good thing.
There is a huge need for healthy go-food, at least here. One of the fastest growing local chains is Crazy bowls and wraps....international twists on wraps and rice bowls....mediocre but the appearance of healthy....cabbage and carrots on the rice with sauce and meat.
I was always looking for veg or fruit sticks with some dippy thing....McDonalds yogurt is trying to address that in a way....there could be alot more done in that arena.
There was a thread several monthes ago on vegetarian fast food....not that I'd go totally veg but there were some great ideas coming from it.
One of the best burger places I know is in Lake Charles, La. Great onion rings....I think they called it a loaf....they also had sauteed onions for the burgers.
Another was a drug store lunchunette with REAL cut fries that were amazing.....burgers and malts were good, tuna ok but the fries got me.....kinda short sweet nubby irregulars musta been made out of red potatoes....
Panini is definately right, get a service to deliver and set-up a super burger joint....with great onion rings.
Joined Jul 28, 2001
Remodeling our home kitchen had forced us into the world of fast food. I gotta tell ya, I was pretty impressed with the fries from mickey d's. Taveling did not seem to hurt them.
Gosh, I love that concept!!! pay up front at a remote location before you receive anything, no receipt, and then pull over and wait(fast food?).
Did have the food taxi bring a couple of old timers from Chili's one night, fries were a little soggy,
Joined Aug 29, 2000
I'm not weighing in on the whole concept, but how about something potato-ey that would hold up? Thin-sliced potatoes (lengthwise), convection-baked/roasted with sea salt, olive oil and rosemary- or other flavorings. They'd hold up and wouldn't have to be hot to be tasty. Frying would work, too if they were thin enough to be really crisp.
Joined Mar 2, 2002
This is an older thread, but I wanted to reply, because this is what I do. Not fries, mind you, but delivery - in a college town. Everyone is right on about developing a menu that will travel well. That's number one. Here are some other things to consider on the business end.

Labor - Even if you work most of the in-store hours yourself, as I do, you need to have someone else on the clock all the time for delivery - even when it is slow. When I first opened, we used to joke about how maybe I could just run the place on my own with a cell phone and a tape recorder. You know, take the order, make the food, deliver it, take any upcoming orders via cell phone, etc. This was just a joke, of course. Its not do-able. Someone has to stay back at the store to receive food deliveries, do paperwork, ring up pick-up orders, etc. The point is, when you deliver, no matter how small you are, you have a built in labor issue. You have to be prepared to pay delivery people even when there are no deliveries. Trust me, it adds up. At least in the beginning. And don't try the putting driver's "on call" thing. It will bite you in the behind.

Summer, Winter break, Thanksgiving holiday, Spring break - read above, and remember that at least one driver will have to be on your clock when campus is a ghost town. $$$! Even if you have a secondary market, you're going to feel it when the students leave for break. And you'll run out of "extra cleaning projects" to keep employees looking busy.

Those friend's willing to help out - Don't expect that to last, no matter how good the friendships be. Do yourself a favor at the outset. Don't start creating expectations that could end up costing some of those friendships. Please (!) don't make the same mistakes I did with that one. Its not worth it.

That having been said, I love the college market, and I love the delivery business. I'm 2 1/2 years into it with my business, and we are still alive! If we make it 5 years, I'll maybe start to feel like we have something! If you are prepared for the unique challenges of such a seasonal market & you can provide them with a product they Want, maybe you'll have something, too. I hope so. Good luck!

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