Kayak’s manager starts business delivering food and coffee to campus neighborhood
And as his business takes off, he isn’t sharing.
A manager at Kayak’s Cafe, where he has worked for three years, Nick Stewart pitched his business model to Kaldi’s Coffee a few years ago before launching his business, Dovelo, in mid-June of this year. He has already expanded the service’s hours after significant interest from students who live in the architecture school and on the South 40.
He hopes to prove bike delivery as a viable means of transporting not only food but beverages as well. His long-term goal is to use his secret strategy to make all food and drinks offered by establishments on the Delmar Loop available at students’ doorsteps.
“I want people to not just have an experience with Dovelo in which they just get their food thrown in a paper bag and handed to them,” Stewart said. “I think the general understanding is that—how could you possibly have a full delivery business of having to deliver coffee hot on a bicycle and not spill it, not shake it all up? People’s general understanding is that if you’re on a bicycle, it’s going to be shoddy.”
He initially offered the service from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, but student interest led him to expand hours to 8 p.m. each day except for Thursday, when he delivers through 9 p.m. He charges a flat delivery fee of $4, and he is currently the company’s founder, owner and sole employee.
People can place delivery orders either online or by phone, and Stewart delivers anywhere on campus and to the neighborhoods to Kayak’s east and west.
“It’s definitely been picking up because the word’s been getting out; people are seeing the benefit of having coffee brought to your doorstep,” Stewart said. “I’m still in the development stage as far as how I want to go about committing myself. I guess I like to…make sure I’m not overreaching my boundaries…make sure I’ve got it fully under control.”
Stewart said a large amount of the interest he has received has been from students working long hours who don’t have time to get off campus. Danielle Clemons, a junior in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, thinks the service will be particularly appealing to students in the art school.
“Kayak’s is a savior for Sam Fox students because Etta’s Cafe’s hours are so short,” Clemons said. “The fact that I could get my favorite Kayak’s sandwiches and smoothies delivered is something I will definitely take advantage of.”
Sophomore Hannah Gafen said she is similarly excited.
“I’m never on that side of campus, but I love Kayak’s, so I’m happy to see they’re making themselves more available to students,” Gafen said.
Junior Hansika Narayanan said that while the service might make sense for some, Kayak’s delivery won’t appeal to the many students who don’t go to Kayak’s for its menu.
“It’s not really the food that stands out about Kayak’s since I only go there to meet people or study, really, and never particularly seek out the food on its own,” Narayanan said, “unless I’m desperate for an alternative to campus food.”
With additional reporting by Becky Prager.