North Beach Delivers: Volunteers offer free food delivery service for San Francisco restaurants, residents

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- When COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders hit in March, a neighborhood association created a group of volunteers called North Beach Delivers. Every Thursday night they deliver food on foot, bike or by car for free.

Danny Sauter, president of North Beach Neighbors, was part of a group of four that thought of the idea.

Each week North Beach Delivers partner with a different restaurant. Tuesday morning they release the featured restaurant of the week on their social media. Folks have until Wednesday night to place orders and choose a delivery window on Thursday evening.

"We actually send out a team of volunteers from the neighborhood and team up with that restaurant. It's free for the restaurant, they don't have to worry about the margins from the delivery apps, and then it's free to customers, they don't have to pay any fees to get it delivered so all volunteer driven," Sauter said.

Sauter said restaurants were nervous at first to try this, but were thrilled once they did.

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"We typically average 40 to 50 orders every time we partner with a restaurant. And so for most of them it's their busiest night that they've had in a couple of months," Sauter said.

Tips go straight to the restaurant.

"We're close to $50,000 dollars in revenue now for the restaurants," Sauter said.

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The Russian Hill neighborhood has adopted this service on Wednesday nights. Sauter, who is running for a district supervisor seat - hopes this service continues to expand.

"We think this is an idea that can exist in any neighborhood if you have a dedicated group behind it. Our hope is that if anyone wants to bring this to their neighborhood just get in touch with us we will help train you we will help kind of turnover the keys on how to do this," Sauter said.

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Sam Wo Restaurant in Chinatown is their next featured business.

"The interest keeps increasing we keep getting more orders every week, we have a wait list of restaurants for the next month that want to partner with us. So as long as there's interest -- as long as it's helping restaurants and customers on it, residents want it -- then we'll keep doing it," Sauter said.

Casey Rouche and his wife just welcomed a newborn in early June and Sauter said they've been consistent customers.

"I have friends in other neighborhoods that wish they had this. There's a delivery zone, and I have friends that live outside of the delivery zone and they can't quite take advantage of it. We love it personally and have had really really good meals," Rouche said.

Rod Freebairn-Smith and Janet Crane have lived in North Beach for over 50 years, they're consistent customers to this service as well.

"They just stepped in at the right moment we thought and it's wonderful. We get a very fancy dinner and no delivery cost," Freebairn-Smith said.

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One feature they enjoy most is seeing the restaurant owners and their families featured on the weekly newsletter.

"Restaurant we walk pass but don't know you know so that's very clever of them to do that I think, whenever there's a face behind the menu," Crane said.

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Noren Izakaya was the second restaurant North Beach Delivers partnered with. One of the owners, Kristy Lau is glad to see the exposure and opportunity rotates different restaurants every week.

"After the shelter in place our sales dropped 95%. That was the biggest night we have since shelter in place. Danny and his entire team did such a great job for the community. I mean I don't know what more to say other than, 'thank you,'" Lau said.

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