Subscribe

Food Taxi safely delivers to Petaluma restaurants

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Subscribe

Petaluma Food Taxi is finally filling a need that many have been looking for — a locally owned delivery service that concentrates on partnerships with Petaluma’s mom and pop restaurants.

Founder Mike Loubert has been a wealth of local knowledge in helping Petaluma Food Taxi’s relaunch under the management of new owners Nick Gordon and Kiko Rodriguez.

Nick is a Boston native who moved to Petaluma in 2002. Two years later, he helped a friend start a delivery service in Marin called Dine-In Marin, which he would eventually purchase in 2019.

No stranger to Petaluma Food Taxi, Nick had been a customer prior to purchasing the company from the Louberts in August 2019. Wanting to rebrand and restructure the company, Nick closed down for the rest of the year and reopened in 2020, just a month or two prior to the current shelter in place order. The fact that he has been able to ramp up so quickly and not just uphold, but exceed customer service expectations says a lot about his approach to the business and his understanding of our uniquely close-knit and supportive community.

“I couldn’t do it without Kiko,” Nick said about his partner Kiko Rodriguez. “He’s a local boy, from Novato, and started with me as a driver. He is finishing up at Sonoma State in finance and I didn’t want to lose the special value he brings to the table, so I offered him an ownership interest. In 20 years of this, Kiko is the best employee I’ve ever had so wanted to make sure he’d stay.”

Kiko handles a lot of the office work, freeing up Nick to develop and strengthen relationships with local restaurants.

One thing customers will notice upon visiting Petaluma Food Taxi’s website is that there are no fast food chain listings.

“We know everyone has their guilty pleasures,” Nick said. “But we’ll leave those to the other guys. We are local and so aiming to serve customers that want to take advantage of all the great local food options that Petaluma has to offer.”

Restaurant say Petaluma Food Taxi offers a more well balanced partnership than other delivery services, which helps explain how in just the past month, PFT has almost doubled its offerings. With restaurant margins being very tight to begin with, the pickup-side fees being charged behind the scenes have been a hurdle to many restaurants signing up for delivery services.

Typically, delivery services charge the restaurant between 25% to 30%, plus credit card fees, which makes the prospect a money loser for most. Petaluma Food Taxi only charges 15% to 20%, including credit card fees, which brings the total for the restaurants right in around 18%. PFT also does not have any hidden fees nor do they mark up the food, as other delivery services sometimes do.

“Pongo’s signed up with them pre-virus and had a chance to get settled in before this whole thing started,” Pongo’s co-owner Kathleen Rose Stafford said. “I can say that Nick is so responsive to updates on menus (and there has been a ton of updates), calling customers back through these times of limited menus and updating his drivers on changes in pick up. I can’t say enough about this service.”

The Shuckery’s Jazmine Lalicker complemented those sentiments.

“We just started working with them and their delivery drivers are top notch,” she said. “They are cautious and careful when picking up food.”

Currently, the best way for restaurants to join is to contact Nick directly, either by phone or email, both of which are available at www.petalumafoodtaxi.com.

“There are no up-front fees and we do not require any sort of commitment, although we do ask for them to gives us at least a 90 day trial,” Nick said. “We give them tablets which allows us easy ordering straight into the kitchen and also allows the restaurant to add time to the pick-up if they get behind. We pass that info along to customers and so far, instead of complaints, we only hear ‘thank you for letting us know’ from our customers.”

The first surprising thing is that the customer side fee is just a flat $5. Most customers place their orders online, even being able to pre-order prior to a restaurant’s opening hours. However, phone ordering is also available at 772-9007.

It takes less than two minutes to set up an online account. Many local favorite restaurants are listed, including Quinua, Stockhome, Charley’s, McNear’s, the Shuckery, Beyond the Glory, Brasil BBQ, Pub Republic and Butcher Crown Roadhouse, just to name a few of the over two dozen restaurants currently available. And according to Nick and Kiko, they are adding restaurants almost daily.

Ordering is effortless, even from a phone. Roughly two minutes prior to arrival, customers receive a call from the driver. If you ask for a no-contact delivery, the driver will set the package at the door, gave a quick knock, and then head back out to the car.

Unlike other delivery or tip-based food service jobs, Petaluma Food Taxi guarantees their drivers a minimum salary.

“Petalumans are very generous,” Nick said. “Ninety percent of our customers leave a gratuity for our drivers, but we still want to make sure they are taken care of when things are slow. Service is everything here in Petaluma and so we want to make sure our drivers feel like part of a success team that is bringing a valuable service to our community.”

With 10 drivers, and counting, Petaluma Food Taxi has been able to keep up with both customer demand and restaurant additions while retaining high customer service standards.

Within days of the shelter in place order going into effect, Nick announced free delivery for anyone over 60 years old. Seeing the need, a day or two later, he starting offering grocery, pharmacy and other pick-ups for seniors, also free of charge.

“To be honest, we are going to lose money on this, but it’s the right thing to do right now,” Nick said. “But we have the network and infrastructure so we are in a position to help, so that is what we are going to do.”

Nick really has gone out of his way to make sure the Petaluma Food Taxi is more than just another delivery service. Petaluma Foodie regular Leslie Crane said that when Nick first took over PFT, he reached out to Petalumans through social media to find out which restaurants they wanted to see him partner with.

“I’m even more impressed that he’s offered to suspend the delivery fee for seniors,” Leslie said. “I won’t use another delivery services, especially because the restaurant owners I’m friends with tell me his charges to them are considerably less than the other, corporate delivery services. The food is delivered quickly and hot and by friendly, courteous driver.”

Megan Petrides shared the feel-good story of the week about wanting to order food for nurses at Novato Community Hospital. Even though currently outside Petaluma Food Taxi’s coverage area, Nick offered to make the delivery for free. He and Pub Republic owner Jory Bergman chatted and worked out a deal where Jory discounted the food by 20% and Nick added another 10% on top of that, plus delivered the food for free.

“She forgot the money to tip him so I messaged him to see if he has a Venmo account we could send him some money,” Megan said. “He refused to accept any tip saying he was so grateful for the nurses and that he would do it over and over again if needed. His and Jory’s kindness is the spirit of Petaluma.”

At a time when tensions and anxiety are running high, it is nice to see a truly local delivery service filling in a void that has been needed for a long time here in Petaluma. There are many delivery options, but when we look to support businesses, we try to go local and Petaluma Food Taxi is clearly treating its restaurants, customers and drivers like family, which is about as Petaluma as it gets.

Show Comment

Our Network

Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine