For the past three years, Innisfil residents have had the luxury of having take-out meals delivered right to their door by using the local delivery app — What's For Dinner Today?
The food delivery service app was just an idea local resident James Tonks and his father came up with one day while figuring out what to eat for dinner.
Since the pandemic began, Tonks says clients and users have grown drastically.
"We had a huge increase in business at the start of the pandemic, and also a lot of new restaurants joining up," he said.
The idea for the food delivery app came in 2018 from his father who runs the local beer and liquor delivery service, Mr. Delivery.
"We saw in this area there were no other food delivery apps at the time. Skip the Dishes was only in the big cities," Tonks said. "We started the app together. I built the app and he signed up the restaurants."
Tonks has a degree in computer science. He started working on the website the summer before graduation, and integrated it with the online ordering service.
"It did take a few weeks to build the app and uploading the restaurants as well," he said.
Tonks and his father run the business full-time and employ a handful of delivery drivers in the area.
During the first few weeks of the pandemic while everyone was stuck at home in lockdown, Tonks and his father teamed up with the Town of Innisfil to offer free delivery to customers.
"Our partnership with the town really helped increase business by three times what it was. ... It helped get our name out," he said.
The year 2020 was stressful, Tonks added, just with the increase in business and hiring lots of drivers. He was a little worried when competitors Uber Eats and Skip the Dishes entered the market earlier this year, but so far he says business remains steady.
"I think we have an established customer base already and customers are happy with our service from us," he said.
There are 33 Innisfil restaurants that use the app. Tonks says he knows how hard it has been for restaurant owners to keep afloat during the pandemic, and believes his app's competitive prices help them to reach a wider customer base.
Tonks moved to Innisfil with his family in 2007 from the United Kingdom. He says he loves the town and being close to the water.
"It's a nice area to live in. It's a good community, with good people. Being close to the lake is nice, too," he said.
What's For Dinner Today? has plans to expand in the near future to the Barrie area, focusing on local restaurants.