Mr. Moto family order: salad and pasta with large pizza
It’s been a dozen years since I first started getting tacos and burritos from Los Reyes Mexican Food in Golden Hill. The family business has been at it since 1991. But only since restaurant dining rooms have been closed due to the ‘rona has it added a new service: local delivery within a three-mile radius ($20 minimum order).
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It’s worth noting, that doesn’t require a third-party delivery app, such as GrubHub, DoorDash, or Postmates. Los Reyes has added delivery on its own initiative, in response to the current public health crisis. When my order arrives, the masked young man delivering it is part of the family; in normal times, he works behind the counter. I paid him a tip, but I didn’t have to pay any of the fees associated with third party apps.
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Those apps, and the Silicon Valley tech execs behind them, are rightfully under a lot of scrutiny right now. Because, even as they typically charge customers delivery fees, they charge the restaurants. You may have seen the Food & Wine story decrying their practice of collecting a 20 to 30 percent commission on each order.
We can credit these apps with establishing a technological infrastructure that brings efficiency to ordering and delivery. But during these socially distant times, when restaurant sales overall are down, and the entire industry is at risk, how easy is it for more restaurants to do like Los Reyes and cut out the middleman? To deliver themselves?
Mr. Moto Pizza House, Ocean Beach location
It’s not unprecedented. Unlike tacos and burritos, pizza has a long tradition of delivery behind it. Not just chains like Dominos, either, but among local, independent restaurants.
Mr. Moto Pizza House, which was already in the delivery game well before anybody heard of covid-19. To better understand how that’s been working out, I reached out to Mr. Moto founder Gibran Fernandez.
Los Reyes Mexican Food, Golden Hill, now with a banner advertising free delivery
Since 2015, he’s expanded Mr. Moto to five locations; a sixth is (still) due at Seaport Village this summer. And all of them employ delivery drivers, and delivery accounts for half its business, more or less. Often more. Fernandez reports delivery orders at his small counter shop in North Park accounts for 80 percent of its business some weeks.
Mr. Moto is available through all the delivery apps, and Fernandez estimates they generate half his delivery business on average. While these orders aren’t as profitable as orders direct to the restaurant, he doesn’t entirely begrudge them. He notes they help his restaurant reach a wider population of customers, and makes it easier to manage the number of drivers he needs.
Like many local restaurants during coronavirus, Mr. Moto has put together family meal specials meant to feed four: $29 for a large one topping pizza, plus pasta, salad, and garlic knots. For that, I had to call in my order. But most of my Mr. Moto deliveries over the years have come from orders I’ve placed through the Mr. Moto web site or smart phone app. They’re simple applications, just sophisticated enough to let you choose half and half toppings on your pizza. But they work, and the customers who use them wind up paying less for their pizza delivery than those using a delivery app. Fernandez speculates that, while overall business is down during the pandemic, Mr. Moto is suffering less of a hit thanks to its established delivery apparatus.
Los Reyes doesn’t have an app — it does have three restaurant locations serving a mix of traditional Mexican meals, tacos, burritos, soups, sandwiches, and juice bar. But it does now deliver, and I hope it helps my local taco shop keep going another thirty years.
Note to readers: if you know of a local restaurant delivering its own meals during coronavirus shut down, please let us know