Restaurants delivered to students

New to Cedar Falls, Freshii is on the Cedar Valley Food Runner website. “It’s been awesome,” said Samantha Burgin, Freshii team leader.

ANNA FLANDERS, Staff Writer

For off-campus dining, options like Urban Pie, The Pump Haus, Montage and Chick-fil-A could be out of reach for students who don’t have transportation or time in the day to try a new restaurant. However, a new company is turning the dining-out experience into a dining-in experience that’s just a few clicks away.

Cedar Valley Food Runner is a web-based service. Through this service, anyone can order from one of the nearly 50 participating restaurants in the Cedar Valley area and get it delivered for a fee of $3.99.

UNI graduates Jacob Beyer and Russel Karim started Cedar Valley Food Runner in August 2016. A class the two took together at the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center pushed their idea closer to reality.

“That was a class that helped us a lot with the set-up and the legal stuff,” Beyer said. “We went into it with the idea that we were going to make some kind of delivery or takeout software that’s locally focused. Within the first week or two of that class, we realized if we want to do this, we’re going to have to provide drivers and then the idea kind of evolved from there.”

The service has been utilized by the brand-new restaurant Freshii, a fast-food restaurant with a heavy focus on providing healthier food which opened in Cedar Falls in the fall of 2017. The chain has locations all over the globe, but the Cedar Falls location is the first to open in Iowa.

“A couple weeks before Freshii contacted me, I was in Minneapolis for the weekend,” Beyer said. “I was in Mall of America, and I saw they had a location there. That was the first I’d seen of them, so it was kind of funny to get an email from them a few weeks later.”

The service has worked well for Freshii.

“I think there’s a lot of businesses here in the Cedar Valley, people that are working during the day and they can’t leave during lunch,” said Samantha Burgin, team leader and marketing head at the Cedar Falls Freshii. “So, Cedar Valley Food Runner has been really popular to restaurants that don’t typically [do] delivery. It’s been awesome. It think that’s really helped our business, and it gives us a standout element.”

Cedar Valley Food Runner delivers to a wide-range of customers, including 9-1-1 dispatchers and other workers with limited time or mobility, such as medical dependents and busy families

After a slow first few months, Cedar Valley Food Runner took off and has been experiencing great successes.

“Ever since January 2017, this whole last year — every month — we’re doing more orders than the last,” Beyer said. “Especially now with the cold weather, more people know about us. We have a pretty big majority of the Cedar Falls restaurants, with the exception of a couple bigger ones and some of your smaller local ones as well.”

Cedar Valley Food Runner also delivers to on campus residence halls.