It’s a trend that’s well established in other cities of the world: restaurant bicycle delivery.

In India, for example, throngs of bicycle-mounted (and on-foot) tiffinwallas spread out across Mumbai around lunchtime, delivering hot, fresh lunches to busy workers downtown.

Closer to home, bicycle delivery is starting to catch on as a way for restaurants to get food to a wider audience without dealing with traffic, pollution and ever-rising gas costs.

In Canada, of course, bicycle delivery isn’t without its challenges. Weather, for one, can seriously hamper delivery efforts. And many Canadian cities have geographical quirks (also known as “hills”) that make bike delivery a little more difficult than hopping in a car.

But if you’re interested in exploring bicycle delivery for your restaurant, here are some tips to make it happen.

  • Consider your location. Ideally, you’ll be centrally located in relation to the majority of your customers. You don’t need to be downtown, exactly, but you do need to be close enough to your patrons that they’ll get their food in a reasonable time. And even if you’re close as the crow flies, take hills into consideration when figuring our your delivery time.
  • Consider requiring orders in advance. Experiment with asking customers to order in advance so you’re able to better determine an efficient delivery route, limit back-and-forth trips and reduce food waste.
  • Figure out when your customers will require delivery. Will you be serving a lunch crowd? Folks who are too tired to cook dinner? Having a handle on when you’re likely to be busy will help you allocate resources. If you’re just starting out, consider limiting your delivery times to when the demand is highest.
  • Get delivery-friendly containers. Whether it’s tiffins in insulated bags (like they use at Tiffinday in Toronto), a trailer on the back of a bike, or an over-sized basket, your delivery vehicle needs to keep food hot or cold and prevent it from spilling. Along those lines, consider limiting delivery of sloshy things like soup, smoothies and coffee, unless you’re sure you can get them to customers without a mess.
  • Think about who’s going to deliver. Some restaurants use established bicycle couriers, like Fast Food in Vancouver. Some restaurants, like Caplansky’s Deli in Toronto, use their own bikes. Hiring an established company is easier if you don’t have the internal resources to go bike riding every day, but using your own bikes leaves you free to…ahem…pimp them out with flashy branding. And on that note…
  • Figure out how to get free advertising out of your delivery. Use branded bags, trailers, messenger bags or baskets. Fit a sandwich board on the back of your bike. Let people know what you’re doing and orders will follow.

What do you think? Could bicycle delivery work for your restaurant?

Image credit: pasa47