DeKALB – During the cold winter months, local restaurants say they’ve received an uptick in business via delivery service.
Some restaurants in DeKalb, however, are unable to employ their own delivery drivers, so they rely on businesses such as StarveBelly to help deliver their food to customers.
StarveBelly was launched in January 2017 by Michael Williams, a then-junior at Northern Illinois University. Williams said his approach to developing the business was simple.
“I wanted food delivered from different restaurants and noticed many don’t deliver,” Williams said. “So I wanted to bridge the gap of insufficient delivery service, table booking, online presence and provide residents of the county with excellent take-out convenience.”
Customers order using StarveBelly’s app or website, which is contracted with restaurants around the city, Williams said. Once an order is placed, a StarveBelly driver will receive a notification on where to pick up the food and where to drop it off, similar to the app GrubHub.
StarveBelly is contracted with a dozen restaurants in DeKalb and employs 10 drivers, Williams said.
He hopes to double those numbers by the end of this year.
“Delivery service will always be a growing business,” he said.
The Huddle Restaurant, at 817 W. Lincoln Highway, partnered with StarveBelly at the end of 2017, Huddle employee Serene Labadi said. StarveBelly delivery service has helped The Huddle feed many customers, specifically students, Labadi added.
“Most of our business, especially in the winter, is deliveries because we are in a college town,” she said. “We do a lot of deliveries to the dorms.
“That’s important in helping the students succeed, too. You don’t want to leave your studying and get out of that zone,” Labadi said. “It’s nice to have (StarveBelly). Delivery makes it really easy for our customers.”
Williams, a native of Lagos, Nigeria, is an accounting major at NIU. He said he used information gained from his business classes to help him create StarveBelly.
He said he overcame a few technical issues with the mobile application and website when StarveBelly first launched last year.
“We had to get through our own little hurdles,” Williams said.
Another hurdle that may be on the horizon for StarveBelly is UberEats. The company hasn’t begun servicing in DeKalb yet, but Williams is aware of the steep competition if UberEats does make its way to DeKalb.
“That’s actually a benefit for us right now that DeKalb doesn’t have UberEats,” he said.
Although Williams will graduate from NIU in May, he hopes to continue StarveBelly’s growth. He’s actually already landed a job post graduation working full time for Goldman Sachs on Wall Street in New York City. He said he still plans to run StarveBelly from New York and that isn’t going to stop him from helping deliver food to customers in DeKalb
“I’m trying to maximize this opportunity,” Williams said. “Customers shouldn’t ever feel like they’re at a loss because they don’t have enough options for food.”