Richmond delivery service looks to serve 100% of local restaurants

Sandwich with fries and a drink at a table.

Written by Sam Fowler

An economic development organization is helping a local delivery company in Richmond, Virginia, provide restaurants with delivery and compete against the national third-party delivery companies.

Chris Chandler launched ChopChop in 2018 with the goal of providing delivery to restaurants in the city. Chandler was a general manager for OrderUp, a national delivery company that GrubHub purchased. He saw the need for a local delivery service, but found the business to be challenging. Chandler had considered shutting down the operation at the start of 2020, but then the pandemic hit. He saw a 500 percent increase in business by May of last year. 

That’s when the city stepped in. Richmond received funds through the federal CARES Act and wanted to find a way to help restaurants in the city. The Economic Development Authority awarded ChopChop a $120,000 grant. The money was designed to lower delivery fees from 20% to 7% for three months, and also to hire more delivery drivers. 

“Richmonders have been supporting our restaurant industry diligently by ordering takeout and delivery since March,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said. “The next time you order through ChopChop, more of your bill will go directly to the restaurants you love, supporting employees and management alike.”

On average, ChopChop was charging 15% to 18%, less than the 20% to 30% charged by competitors such as Grubhub and DoorDash. The local delivery service currently covers around 80% of Richmond restaurants and hopes to cover 100% by the end of April. The service currently works with restaurants including Osaka, Lucky Asian Fusion and Campus Waffle.

“Any restaurant within the city of Richmond limits, we’re charging them 7% commission,” Chandler said.

Chandler stated that the grant was the city’s way of giving back to restaurants around Richmond, and that ChopChop is trying to make the most of the program to help the restaurants. 

“Our goal, if things continue to grow, would be to stay at 7% past the three-month time period of that grant program,” he said. “But everything is uncertain at this point in time, so we’re trying to do the best we can to grow and make customers aware of what we’re doing, how we’re trying to help and give back to the community.”

The biggest struggle for ChopChop currently is marketing, because the national delivery services are so well funded. 

“That’s been the battle that we’ve been dealing with for three years,” Chandler said.  “I guess any company deals with its marketing and people knowing what they do.”

Chandler said that being able to work with smaller restaurants, such as The Savory Grain, has been satisfying. He has seen these business struggle during the pandemic, but Savory Grain was hit hard even before the pandemic when the city added bus lanes and took away parking.

“I’ve known (the owner of The Savory Grain) since middle school, and it’s really nice to be able to work with somebody that I’ve known for so long, who has a small restaurant,” Chandler said. “And, you know, I know the struggles that she’s dealt with.” 

With the grant, Chandler hopes to continue to ensure that the money will also help the restaurants as well as ChopChop. 

“The whole goal is to make sure that the funds that were allocated to us, through the city, go back to the Richmond restaurants as much as possible,” Chandler said. 

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