Two graduates from Western Colorado University have partnered together to create a local food delivery service for the entire Gunnison Valley. Erik Riego Jordan and Luke Hylton are co-founders of GunniGrub.
Like DoorDash and GrubHub, GunniGrub delivers from your favorite restaurant straight to your door. Unlike the food delivery service giants, GunniGrub does not charge restaurants or take any percentage of the drivers’ delivery fees or tips. Instead, through their newly-launched website, GunniGrub will offer a yearly subscription service beginning Feb. 6.
During the height of the pandemic lockdown, many local restaurants were forced to provide delivery in order to keep their businesses afloat. But most major food delivery companies charged so much for the service that restaurants still lost money, according to Riego Jordan.
“We really love the community, and we want to do everything we can to do right by it,” he said.
Food delivery services have tried to come into the valley, but none have been successful, according to Riego Jordan. When Riego Jordan and Hylton approached restaurants initially, there was a lot of skepticism. Now, GunniGrub handles deliveries from over 20 eateries in the valley, as well as Wilder’s Organic Market and Pawsitively Native Pet Boutique.
GunniGrub charges a flat delivery fee starting at $5. The fee is waived for first-responders and medical personnel. Hylton and Riego Jordan hope to expand the business and add more drivers. Distance is not an issue for GunniGrub, which has delivered to Taylor Canyon, Parlin and Mt. Crested Butte.
“I am so impressed with Erik’s excitement and efforts around the delivery idea for Gunni Grub and making it happen,” said Director of the Gunnison County Chamber of Commerce Celeste Helminski in an email. “Erik and his partner are great examples of how ideas become action and filling a need in our community.”
Times Publisher Alan Wartes spoke to Riego Jordan and Hylton for an episode of the podcast “City Talk,” published last week. The following is the origin story of GunniGrub that has been edited for length and clarity.
Wartes: Really looking forward to this conversation, because you don’t normally think of a market this size as being suitable for a business like this. So, I’m really interested to hear your story: how this business came to be. Erik, let’s start with you. When did you realize, ‘Oh, wait a minute! I know what we can do!’?
Riego Jordan: I think sophomore year at Western, Luke and I were hanging out, and I told him, ‘You know, I really would just do anything right now for some Jermaine’s delivered to my door.’ ‘Cause I didn’t want to go. Also, there were other days where we were just like, nine o’clock, really wanted something, but nobody was available, and there was no way to get delivery. Unless you had a car, it was pretty difficult to go and get the stuff, pick it up and bring it back, especially during the winter.
Wartes: Once this idea started to take root — because you know a lot of people lay around the dorm room or on the couch and come up with ideas. Ideas are cheap. It’s not that many people who go the next step. What was the next step for you guys?
Riego Jordan: Honestly, the way it kind of came to fruition was, I was laying on my couch, and I had an idea. But given all the skills I’ve learned in law school, I was able to say, ‘Hey, this isn’t that hard.’ So I bootstrapped the whole entire thing with 200 bucks: getting it registered, doing most of the legal work myself, which saved a couple thousand dollars. Then, from there, it was really slow. I was trying to balance everything. I realized I need somebody to help. Luke and I were hanging out and I was like, ‘This is perfect! Why not? You can come on board, and we’ll be partners on this.’
Hylton: Well, it’s kind of funny, because he had offered a driving position to me, and I went over to his house just thinking, ‘I’ll drive on the side and make a few extra dollars,’ and then, he asked me if I wanted to come in on it with him. I was like, ‘Okay. Well, sure.’ It’s not what I was expecting. To listen to the entire interview, use the QR code below.