For the first time on Martha’s Vineyard, a food delivery service will partner with restaurants to bring delicious local fare to your doorstep.
The new service, called MV Eats, will soon offer delivery to down-Island towns Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Tisbury. Liam Bruno, who heads the service, said his experience started out on Nantucket in 2019.
After traveling to our neighboring island all his life to visit the summer camp his parents operate, he eventually decided to start a delivery service there, called ACK Eats.
“It’s essentially an on-demand delivery service that is pretty synonymous with Grubhub or DoorDash, but it has more of a local focus,” Bruno told The Times.
For a while, ACK Eats operated independently, taking customer service inquiries and managing delivery routes on its own.
Eventually, Bruno said, an online delivery platform called delivery.com reached out and offered assistance.
Delivery.com is expanding to different independent delivery services across the country by providing an enhanced technology platform for restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, and liquor stores, Bruno explained.
“That was a huge thing for us, because the user experience on their mobile app was worlds better than what we previously had. Same thing for the restaurant’s experience with order printing, the ability to control their own menu and hours, and quickly hiding items on the fly when they run out,” Bruno said.
He added that Delivery.com provided a more refined driver app to manage deliveries and schedules, along with dedicated customer service employees.
ACK Eats works with more than 30 restaurants on Nantucket, and has delivered more than 60,000 orders in the past two years.
For drivers on Nantucket, some enticing incentives are available, such as gas bonuses and guaranteed salaries for drivers who work more than a certain number of days, or deliver a certain number of orders. Those same incentives will eventually be available for Vineyard drivers as well. “Like if someone does between 50 to 100 orders in a week, we guarantee them to make a minimum of $10 an order,” Bruno said.
Drivers are paid as independent contractors by the order. However, on Nantucket, ACK Eats is looking to set up an “all-star driver” position where if someone works five days a week or more during a specified time slot, the service guarantees that person will make $1,000 per week.
Currently, ACK Eats offers a $100 sign-on bonus after a driver has worked three shifts, and the company is looking to do the same for MV Eats.
“There are more classified ads on Nantucket than I have ever seen, so we are trying to really stand out and incentivize new drivers, and basically pay them competitively, compared to if they worked a full-time job elsewhere,” Bruno said.
Bruno is also involved with cryptocurrency like Bitcoin and Ethereum, and said he is anticipating offering an alternative bonus where drivers can receive cryptocurrency instead of gas money or additional pay.
For MV Eats, Bruno said, it’s all about offering the same convenient customer experience as a large service like DoorDash or Uber Eats, while keeping the decisionmaking process local, and working closely with business partners to establish a mutually beneficial working relationship.
“The large ordering platforms often get a bad rap, and sometimes rightfully so — Uber Eats, for instance, charges restaurants an average of 30 percent of each order total, so for many restaurants and businesses, it’s hardly even a profitable thing to do,” Bruno said. “We don’t have anything like that.”
He stressed that the agreements he makes with partner restaurants are always borne of collaborative discussion, and MV Eats plans on keeping the lines of communication open with establishments that opt into the service.
To start, the Vineyard delivery service will cater to only the down-Island towns, and management is considering whether or not to provide crosstown service, or service to the towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark, and West Tisbury.
“It’s a little bit more nuanced on Martha’s Vineyard. On Nantucket, the furthest a driver would ever have to go is 15 minutes or so, so we are still toying with the idea of delivery range,” Bruno said.
In the summer, ACK Eats normally employs around 75 drivers. But, to accommodate the Martha’s Vineyard seasonal population, which swells to upwards of 200,000 (compared with Nantucket’s figure of around 60,000), additional drivers will be needed.
Not only does ACK Eats provide restaurant delivery, it also delivers alcohol, groceries, and other staples.
Although Bruno said MV Eats will start out with only restaurant service, he intends to eventually expand into new areas, like grocery stores and liquor stores.
Bruno plans to launch the new Vineyard delivery service sometime in late April or early May.
For restaurants that may want to sign on, MV Eats will offer a 30-day free trial, where restaurants can try out the service.
“We really want to demonstrate the level of value a service like this can provide to restaurants on Martha’s Vineyard,” Bruno said.