In the past, takeout in Lakeland was limited to the usual pizza and Chinese restaurants. Something like steak was off the menu. Then Takeout Hero came.
“Now, if you’re craving a steak but you’re sick, you still can get that steak. And that’s the whole goal of this business, is to offer that,” Takeout Hero Owner Cecil Seay said.
Takeout Hero is a website founded around eight months ago that allows people to order food from restaurants that usually do not deliver, like Tijuana Flats, Texas Roadhouse and Fat Maggie’s.
Once a customer fills out the web form on the site with their food selections, a customer service representative at Takeout Hero will call it in to the restaurant. Drivers will then be texted where to go to pick up the food and the order’s information.
Since there is no central location for the drivers to congregate, Takeout Hero’s drivers can wait anywhere until they receive their text.
“It kind of makes the ideal job for someone, you know, who’s in a college-type mentality,” Seay said.
Currently Seay does have drivers working for him from local colleges, such as Polk State and Southeastern University. At one point there was even a student from Florida Southern College.
After receiving the order, the driver will pick up the food when it is ready and deliver it.
“Typically the order takes about 45 minutes,” Seay said. “That equals 20 minutes for the restaurant to make it, 20 minutes for us to deliver, and a 5 minute gap just to make sure that it’s accurate.”
It can also take longer due to Takeout Hero’s policy of not picking up double orders.
“We don’t let our drivers pick up several orders at one time and take them all, because then that jeopardizes the quality,” Seay said.
Megan Riordan, a sophomore advertising and public relations major, ordered from Takeout Hero with some of her friends. While one of her friends used the website to order from Tijuana Flats, Riordan looked over her shoulder to see the options.
“It had the full selection of everything that Tijuana Flats had to offer, including desserts and things like that,” Riordan said.
Riordan said that the variety would be useful for her friends who do not have cars.
“They can just call and they can have stuff delivered so they don’t always have to have pizza or go to the UnderCaf or go to the Caf or something like that,” Riordan said.
Seay started Takeout Hero after moving with his wife to Lakeland from Brandon. Seay had worked at a similar company, Mobile Meals, and had seen that there was nothing like it in Lakeland.
He decided to create a company that was similar to Mobile Meals, but also different.
Takeout Hero’s website was designed by one of Seay’s friends. The logo that dominates the website was created, incorporating elements of the Flash, Batman and Superman.
During the first month the company only received 46 orders. Seay was one of the drivers, and his wife handled customer service. WHen it comes to delivery, one can easily get into it and have delivery food as a side hustle, all they need is a little training.
During the business’s third month, things changed.
“Out of nowhere, we didn’t do anything different, no extra marketing, just people began to hear about us and share the word, and we just kind of took off,” Seay said.
Now Takeout Hero is looking to expand.
“We’re actually in the beginning stages of expanding to Winter Haven as well as Lakeland because it’s just taken off really well,” Seay said. “So we want to offer that to another city that does not have it.”
Takeout Hero operates from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for the lunch shift and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. for the dinner shift. It is open from 4 p.m. to 10 pm. on weekends. It currently works with 13 different restaurants and a $3.99 delivery charge is added to the cost. For a full listing, visit their site.