A new delivery app aims to give diners a locally owned alternative to the big national names. Meet OrangeCrate, an app that does things a little differently.
Unlike the national brands, each OrangeCrate affiliate is locally owned and has a specific geographic territory. Franchisee Cody Lee has brought the company to two areas of Houston, Fort Bend County and the greater Memorial area. Lee launched in Fort Bend on June 1 and will bring Memorial online August 24.
“We’re just like UberEats or DoorDash, but we’re locally owned and locally operated, so I have a lot of control and flexibility versus some of the bigger name brands,” Lee tells CultureMap.
That flexibility starts with the cost restaurants pay to use OrangeCrate. While national operators might charge as much as 30 percent to deliver a meal, Lee says OrangeCrate’s fees are typically half that, usually between 10 and 15 percent.
Customer fees start at $2.99 and go up depending on how far away from the restaurant they live. Most orders also have a $10 minimum.
In terms of control, Lee trains each driver personally and monitors them when they’re working. Unlike other services, drivers may only make one delivery at once, and they’re only allowed to make OrangeCrate deliveries while they’re on the company’s schedule.
“I can chat with them and understand if there’s an issue and minimize the impact to the customer,” Lee says. “There’s a lot of control where I can maintain a lot of variables to ensure the customer experience.”
From a user’s perspective, the experience will feel familiar. Order and pay via OrangeCrate’s website and app. A driver — wearing masks and gloves, of course — will arrive with a bright orange bag containing the food order.
Lee says that so far his biggest challenge has been building awareness of the brand and convincing restaurateurs that he’s a viable alternative to the more familiar names. From his perspective, restaurants that promote his company can save money on delivery fees and expand their reach, which is particularly important at a time when some people don’t feel comfortable eating in restaurants.
“Most people know the bigger guys,” Lee says. “It’s important to hear Orange Crate, and that we’re a local option; we’re also a cheaper option. They get the same or better service for their customers.”
In Fort Bend County, Lee has started with a roster of mostly national and regional chains like Chili’s, 5 Guys, and Chuy’s, but he says he’s trying to add as many local restaurants as possible. In the Memorial area, he hopes to launch with between 50 and 60 establishments.
"My focus is on local restaurants and earning their business," Lee says. "I will only be adding local restaurants as we go forward."
So far, Lee has seen enough growth that he’s optimistic about the service’s future. He’s got his eyes on Galveston and The Woodlands as potential market for expansive, with Inner Loop neighborhoods in his long term plans.