A day to stay in, order out
As snow picks up, so does business for those who deliver
CAPITAL REGION When snowflakes fly, telephones ring at Home Style Pizza in Schenectady.
“We had a lot of new customers today,” said Anthony Adonnino, a co-owner of the Union Street restaurant. “When we put in their phone numbers, I noticed they’re not in my system. I’m guessing we’re one of the few people delivering today.”
Not quite. As some Capital Region residents celebrated Thursday’s first snowstorm of 2014 by staying indoors, Adonnino and other restaurateurs and business owners stayed busy by delivering hot food to grateful customers.
Adonnino believes that with great pizza comes great responsibility. He said his restaurant has an obligation to the community during weather events.
“There are a lot of people who depend on us for food,” he said, adding that Home Style had already received about 30 delivery requests by early Thursday afternoon. “Loyal customers are constantly calling us, older clientele, even people who don’t have transportation.”
Home Style had four drivers on the road during the storm. Adonnino said people who open their doors to pepperoni and sausage pies and Italian-style dinners on snowy days show their appreciation with monetary rewards.
“People tend to tip better on these types of days,” he said.
In Wilton, submarine sandwiches and dinners from Caputo’s also were on the road.
“We’re a lot busier than we typically would be on a Thursday for delivery,” said Amy Roelen, manager of the pizzeria just off Northway Exit 15.
Roelen said Caputo’s lone driver, Vinny Benton, delivered the goods within a five-mile radius. “The roads are slick,” Roelen said. “He’s just taking his time. He’s typically a trouper when it comes to this kind of thing.”
People were thinking ahead as snow swirled and traffic snarled during morning hours. Roelen said people were already calling at 10:30 a.m., 30 minutes before the business opened. They might have been the same customers who normally would have visited Caputo’s in person.
“We have in-store slices and a full waitstaff, but it was slower today,” Roelen said. “Nothing like our usual lunch.”
Esperanto in Saratoga Springs also was preparing winter packages.
“We do a few more deliveries when no one wants to leave their homes,” said R.J. Burtt, manager of the Caroline Street restaurant. “We’ve been doing a lot of gluten-free items lately, people are ordering soup — chicken curry today. People really like that curry heat on cold days.”
Other people preferred Chinese food. Hsin Li, who works at the New Dragon Garden on Vly Road in Schenectady, said some orders were transported during the afternoon hours. He expected a busier evening.
“It varies,” he said of delivery requests. “If the weather is not so great, people tend to stay inside and call for deliveries.”
Jarred Parker, manager of Wings Over Albany on Western Avenue, also expected a busy Thursday night. He thinks a lot of people stayed home from work during the day and knows schools are still on holiday break — the combination of the two might have explained Wings’ slow lunch session. “We do quite a bit with the cold weather — raining, snowing,” he said.
Only a few deliveries went out the door at Gershon’s Deli in Schenectady. But while snowy weather brought extra business to some places, the storm caused some folks to reconsider plans for sandwiches and salads. Antonio Lauria, who owns the Union Street establishment, said those orders would have been delivered to offices for meeting lunches. “With weather like this, some people canceled,” he said.
Price Chopper Supermarkets offers a grocery delivery service — “Shops4U” — with orders taken at the chain’s stores in Bethlehem, Niskayuna, Latham, Malta and Albany Westgate. Mona Golub, the company’s vice president of public relations and consumer services, said the delivery services are booked several days in advance. And she said the week after the holidays is typically a busy time for people who call in their grocery orders. This week was no different.
“People could have been looking at the forecast,” Golub said, “but relative to last year at this time, without a snowstorm, we were also virtually at capacity for our ‘Shops4U’ services.”
D’Andrea’s Pizza, another Saratoga Springs business, had made about 30 deliveries by early evening. Victoria Wilson, the store manager, expected the crush of call-in customers.
“Every time it snows, we are like insane with deliveries,” she said. “Five at a time — and I only have two drivers.”
Wilson said people appreciate food brought to their doors.
“Our customers are very loyal,” she said. “They’re happy. They say thanks. We always get it to them fast. It’s always fresh.”