Dining With Denise Neil

New food delivery service designed to help small Wichita eateries fight the corporate power

Barter Day at Little Lion and Espresso to Go Go

(FILE VIDEO -- 2018) Owners of two Wichita businesses traded food and drink for songs and bikes.
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(FILE VIDEO -- 2018) Owners of two Wichita businesses traded food and drink for songs and bikes.

A downtown coffee shop known for its love of all things local has launched a new service that, in part, is designed to fight the corporate power.

Or at least make a tiny dent in it.

Espresso to Go Go, which has two downtown stores owned by Ann and Warren Tandoc, has started its own little food delivery service called Unicorn to Go, named for the soaring unicorn that decorates their shop on the ground floor of The Lux, 120 E. First St. The original Espresso to Go Go is at 102 St. Francis.

The service is fairly new, so it’s still adding hours and partners. But as of now, Unicorn to Go is offering delivery from three different food trucks (plus from their own shop) from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. So far, they’ve signed up food truck pioneers The Flying Stove, vegan hot dog vendor Wheat Street Dogs, and coffee truck Sunflower Espresso.

The service is an alternative to the corporate delivery services that have invaded Wichita over the past couple of years. Maggie Gilmore said that Espresso to Go Go was approached by a few of them but that the chunk they wanted to keep from each order would have erased the store’s profit margin.

They didn’t like that, so they came up with a way that smaller food businesses could participate in the food delivery trend without hurting their bottom lines.

Gilmore said that she and the Tandocs also didn’t trust that people who weren’t personally invested in their shop would deliver their drinks — or their food truck friends’ culinary creations — with the care and caution they would themselves.

“We kind of thought, ‘Let’s try to do our own thing,’” she said. “It’s something people are interested in — delivery seems like it’s growing and is something people want. We wanted to do it in a more locally minded way, where everyone wins and not just one person benefits.”

Gilmore said that Espresso to Go Go charges a fee based on how far away the order has to go. It ranges from $3 for close downtown drop offs to $12 for those that stretch them to the edge of their 10-mile delivery radius. The trucks that sign on with their service pay a small monthly subscription fee, but they keep the profits on their orders. Espresso to Go Go keeps the fees.

Unicorn to Go is trying to get more food trucks to sign up, Gilmore said, and they think they will soon, especially once winter comes and the trucks aren’t as busy with walk-up business.

Flying Stove co-owner Jeff Schauf said his truck’s partnership with Unicorn to Go is only a couple of days old, but he likes it so far. It didn’t work out financially for the truck to offer delivery before, he said, but this partnership makes sense. He expects more trucks who frequent the Pop-Up Park will want to join in soon.

“It’s kind of just getting started,” he said. “You have a few early adopters, and you have people who will wait and see how it goes. But I think it will pay for itself in the end.”

The coffee shop started experimenting with delivery in early 2018, taking its own coffee creations around town on Fridays only. It went well, so earlier this year, they expanded the service to offer it Mondays through Fridays.

The new service will allow people to order from more than one food truck on days when they’re available, and people also can add Espresso to Go Go’s drinks to their orders. The coffee shop’s own Monday through Friday service will still be available from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

To order, customers should visit unicorntogo.com and click on “order for delivery.” On the site, they can see which trucks are offering delivery each day, and once delivery hours start, they can click on the different trucks’ menus and load their carts.

Unicorn To Go has hired another driver to keep up, Gilmore said, and they’re excited to see how the service grows. They won’t be able to match the big guys on speed or reach, she said, but they think they can beat them on quality of service.

“We definitely don’t plan on trying to compete with any of the major companies,” she said. “But we wouldn’t mind continuing to grow it.”

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Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.
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