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Monday Q&A: Food pedaler pushes Richmond beyond pizza, Chinese

Amy David January 24, 2011 4

It began with four bikes, $5,000 and an idea for a food delivery service that was quick and didn’t depend on the use of a car.

New York native Frank Bucalo, 28, started Quickness RVA in June to pedal food from local restaurants to hungry patrons, minus the combustion engine.

Quickness works with such restaurants as Alamo BBQ, Fresca on Addison, Mama’s Kitchen, Strange Matter, Lamplighter Roasting Co. and Little Mexico Burrito Chop.

The pedal-powered delivery service carries food to Carytown, Shockoe Bottom, Church Hill, Jackson Ward and the Museum District, and Bucalo is working to add destinations.

BizSense caught up with Bucalo to see what fueled his idea.

Richmond BizSense: What gave you the idea?

Frank Bucalo: I’ve lived in a lot of places. I was raised in Brooklyn, where you can get anything delivered day or night, and biking is the preferred mode of transportation. I worked for different companies and was hired by one restaurant where I delivered food on a bike.

It’s why I chose the name Quickness. I think bikes are faster and more efficient than cars, especially for this city.

RBS: Why did you decide to bring it to Richmond?

FB: I’d been in Brooklyn for eight years and needed a change. I had been coming here to visit friends for several years, and Richmond seemed like a place I wanted to go.

I’d been here for a year and half looking for work, and one night I wanted to get food delivered and looked at my options, which were basically pizza and Chinese. I wanted more options, and I just began thinking of ways to do it.

RBS: So it was just you when you started out?

FB: Yep. I worked six days a week, 11 hours a day, using my bike and working out of my house. I worked with just one restaurant at first, and it was hard getting started, but I brought the idea to the city and went around to a few restaurants pitching the idea and it began to catch on.

RBS: How many restaurants do you work with now?

FB: We have six that we have contracts with that hire the company to do the deliveries. Fresca is new. It has only been open for about two months, and I feel we’ve had a big part in helping the restaurant get started.

We get a lot of requests from people asking us if we deliver to certain places, too, which in some cases is how we start working with them.

RBS: How often do you make deliveries and to what places?

FB: On average we do between 15 and 25 deliveries daily on each side of town. Orders come in all day long, but we’re usually busiest at lunch time. Businesses are a big part of that, mostly during the day. We deliver to salons, tattoo shops, a bunch of boutiques around Carytown, banks — it’s a pretty large variety.

We deliver to residential areas more on the weekends.

RBS: How long do deliveries usually take?

FB: Between 10 and 20 minutes, which I think is pretty good. Usually when you order delivery it ends up taking 40 or 45 minutes.

RBS: What do you do if the weather is bad?

FB: We go out in all weather. We’re delivering seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. In the rain, we just throw on some rain gear. That’s usually our best time, when the weather is too nasty for people to go out. We don’t mind it.

RBS: Have there been any problems getting food to the customers?

FB: No, things have worked out pretty well. We have baskets and thermal bags to keep the food warm. We go down to Shockoe Bottom constantly and never have a problem. We don’t normally deal with hills though. We try and stay on flat areas if we can.

RBS: What are your expenses?

FB: Right now our main expenses our rent, bike repairs and the thermal bags we use for deliveries. The local bike shops have been really supportive, though. They’ve offered to help my riders out if they have a flat tire or any problems, [which has] been nice.

RBS: Are you looking to add anything to Quickness?

FB: There some places in Carytown I’d like to start working with, and I’ve even been thinking of some places in Northside. It’d be cool to branch out that way. I’m also working on the idea of adding a tricycle and cargo bike for bigger deliveries, but that’s not anytime soon.

I’m mainly looking for things that would be useful to people here in Richmond.

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4 Comments »

  1. Beth Weisbrod January 24, 2011 at 8:36 am - Reply

    Love it! Good luck to you, Mr. Bucalo.

  2. ZAch archibald January 24, 2011 at 9:23 am - Reply

    We are thrilled with the relationship we have developed with quickness . But as a small business we have really gotten a great deal in that when the delivery folk are not actively delivering food they distribute menus in a targeted fashion. This has been instrumental in gettng our menus in front of new eyes. This double service is what puts quickness above and beyond a typical 1 dimentional entity . Zach from lamplighter roasting company

  3. Amy January 24, 2011 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    I’d love to see grocery delivery via bike and echo that Northside needs some love too. It’s nice and flat up here! 🙂

  4. Michael Gilbert January 25, 2011 at 9:08 am - Reply

    Frank and the Quickness crew are the best… Zach’s comments ring true. It’s fast, efficient, and there are some great synergies that restaurants really benefit from. It also shows citizens that yes, you can use a bicycle for things other than racing or commuting… transporting food and groceries are just the tip of the iceberg! Keep it up Frank, and crew!

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