For better lunch, try a new mousetrap

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FoodsbySeveral years ago, Ben Cattoor worked at a company that hired a person whose sole job was to take lunch orders for employees, then run to a restaurant and bring back the food.

At another place he worked, Cattoor once noticed a deliveryman from the same sandwich shop visiting his building five times in a 20-minute span.

In a dysfunctional system that bordered on comical, Cattoor saw an opportunity and created Foodsby for businesses looking to streamline their lunch-ordering process. He calls it a “delivery network for restaurants.”

From a customer’s standpoint, once the desired restaurant establishment is in the system, orders may be placed for a single delivery at a designated meeting place and time.

“We are in the business of generating orders,” says Cattoor.

There are other services out there that function as lunch delivery agents – GrubHub is a good example – but here’s where Foodsby sets itself apart: the restaurants in its network don’t normally deliver. Whereas competing apps become integrated with existing delivery services, the team of three at Foodsby connects with popular eateries where delivery was previously not an option.

This benefits both the customers, who now have access to a new variety of destinations without having to leave the office, and the restaurants, which can send out many extra orders while dedicating minimal resources to the delivery process. Because the directions are so specific – each building has an accessible, consistent drop-off spot and is always in close proximity to the establishment – Cattoor says most participating lunch joints either hire a courier to make the quick run or simply send a manager.

Foodsby, which originally launched in May and is now renewing its push with a revamped website, earns money on transaction fees from its partners (those fees are often passed on to the consumer ­– a maximum of 15 percent).

Currently, the infant company is partnered with six restaurants – Subway, Mort’s Delicatessen, Arby’s, Chipotle, SoHo Café and Wok in the Park – and mostly serves the West End area between Minneapolis and St. Louis Park. He says the company’s next focus will be branching out into Eden Prairie, a haven for large businesses and good eats.

In addition to the added delivery capability, Cattoor notes that his company is helping usher these popular spots into the digital era. Most restaurants they’ve become involved with hadn’t offered an online ordering feature in the past, but by partnering with Foodsby they’re able to do so without putting resources into building out new processes.

Cattoor estimates that around 10 orders per day are currently coming through his system. The returns for early adopters have been good. “Restaurants that received orders last week probably averaged about $200 in additional revenue,” Cattoor says, “and that’s essentially revenue that they made before even opening their doors.”

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