@EasyEatsBates Instagram Account /Photo Courtesy
COVID-19 has revolutionized the food service industry and has made delivery one of the nation’s most utilized means of dining. Because of the pandemic, stock prices of food delivery businesses like UberEats and DoorDash have soared, and many restaurants have permanently altered their dining models to accommodate for fully remote service.
While Commons offers a convenient grab-and-go model for the majority of students on campus, there still exists a consumer need for door-to-door restaurant takeout. Enter Easy Eats: a for-students, by-students delivery service providing takeout to those living on campus.
The app was started by a group of Colby College freshmen, one of them a close friend of Anna Landgren ’22, who then connected with fellow Bates students David Akinyemi ’21 and Patrick Windels ’21 so that the three co-founders could bring the app to Lewiston.
“Initially,” said Akinyemi, “I had an idea to pitch in Bobcat Ventures a food delivery app for local restaurant Kim’s Kitchen to give students the opportunity to get the food they loved delivered to their dorm room. However, that competition did not end in my favor.” As such, Easy Eats is the result of a collaboration and exchange of ideas between multiple individuals.
The service uses both IOS and Android operating systems for their respective app stores. Students place orders from surrounding restaurants, such as McDonald’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Panera. Student drivers then pick up the orders and deliver them directly to students’ dorms.
Landgren, who also assists with driver recruitment and scheduling for the application, noted that the pandemic has required a concerted effort to make the app run safely.
“While COVID has restricted direct dorm access,” started Langdren, “we are taking every precaution to ensure safe delivery, now contactless.”
Amidst the pandemic, the app has also achieved something new — official collaboration with Bates Dining Services. According to Dining Services director Christine Schwartz, Bates Dining has “been working with Easy Eats, who have been providing delivery service to students in quarantine who need dining support as well as those in isolation. Thank goodness there has not been much call for this service.”
The college will also work directly with the app to address concerns for students who may have dietary issues that impact their ability to eat at Commons.
“Additionally,” said Schwartz, “We are working with them on a platform which will allow students with special dietary needs to place orders online that our culinary staff can access immediately. This has been a very exciting partnership and we look forward to getting this up and going.”
For Akinyemi, Easy Eats is more than just a convenient way for students to get takeout – it’s also a means of providing jobs to students on campus and bolstering the local economy.
“Easy Eats not only gives students the opportunity to get the food they love directly to their dorms but also provides job and leadership opportunities for students on campus. More importantly, I think Easy Eats is necessary because of how much it gives back to the local community. We have been able to partner with many local restaurants and give them a platform that not only bridges the gap between them and hungry college students, but also equips them with a new tool for success.”
Kerry Manuel ‘21, a student leader of Bobcat Ventures, sees significant financial potential in the app. According to Manuel, “Easy Eats has a lot of potential to grow at Bates, especially considering [that] the Den has temporarily closed and during colder winter months when students are looking for an alternative dinner option to Commons.”
The price point of the app is particularly enticing. “Easy Eats,” stated Manuel, “is cheaper than other popular food delivery services, and I think this is a huge appeal that they can use to their advantage. We could tell from talking with David and Patrick that they are both very passionate about getting Easy Eats to be a significant presence on campus, and if they continue putting in the work, we believe this start-up has a bright future to expand to other colleges and restaurants nationwide.”
Still, students may have concerns about the safety of food delivery during a viral pandemic, particularly when so many measures are taken at Commons to promote safety. Landgren, however, reinforced the measures being taken at East Eats: “People should seek comfort, especially in COVID times, knowing that the people delivering to them are taking proper precautions and testing twice a week.”
Easy Eats hopes to expand its reach to other restaurants by the beginning of the next semester, potentially including Chipotle, Mother India, and Taco Bell, among other possible restaurants.
“I think the future of Easy Eats,” ended Akinyemi, “is for it to keep growing across the country and to improve our platform. We hope to spread to more colleges as well as create more official partnerships with those schools. We also hope to constantly integrate new features and forms of technology into our platform to improve the experience for everyone using it. Most importantly, I think the future will always still be focused on taking care of the students.”