COLUMBIA — The day that Tiger’s Takeout officially opened for business came as a bit of a surprise.
Owner Brian Whorley and manager Matt Friedman were fielding test orders online when a name appeared that looked unfamiliar. It only took them a second to realize that it was no test.
“I grabbed a bag, hopped in the truck and made it to Osaka in eight minutes,” Whorley recalled. Then realized: “We’re open.”
Tiger’s Takeout opened April 20, 2007 and delivers food from about 30 local restaurants. Started by a MU grad, the business is a delivery service for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Eventually, the owner and manager hope to franchise the business.
Whorley, 26, graduated from MU with a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 2003 and has always dreamed of opening his own business. He didn’t study business in school, but his educational background comes into play at Tiger’s Takeout.
“There’s always problems with owning a business,” he said. “And engineers always have problems to solve.”
The business delivers for a wide range of restaurants including chains like Chipotle and Quiznos and locally owned eateries such as Boone Tavern and Village Wine & Cheese.
Customers can view menus from participating restaurants at tigerstakeout.com and place orders online, by phone or fax.
Chick Orscheln, owner of Smokin’ Chick’s BBQ in southwest Columbia, has worked with Tiger’s Takeout from the beginning.
Orscheln said the service makes it easy for customers “to get our product without having to come across town.”
To handle online orders, Tiger’s Takeout purchased software from a similar delivery service called Quik Dine in Springfield.
Josh Wever of Quick Dine said the company usually trains new system users for six months, but Whorley caught on within the first three weeks.
“He’s actually really self-sufficient,” Wever said. “He pretty much picked up the ball and ran with it.”
Tiger’s Takeout equips its drivers with walkie-talkies, thermal heating bags that reach 165 degrees and ice chests for ice cream deliveries.
Sales have spiked since school resumed.
“We’re setting new records everyday,” Whorley said.
Even restaurants like Hooters, famous for their in-house attractions, use the service. The restaurant picked up at least one new customer because of the delivery service.
“We received a call from a female customer who said, ‘I’ve always wanted to try Hooters, but I’d never go there,’” Whorley said.
Customers must order a minimum of $10 worth of food, and Tiger’s Takeout charges an additional $4.95 per delivery. It usually takes 30 to 40 minutes to receive an order but the time varies depending on how long the restaurant takes to prepare the order.
Lisa Labrie, a resident of Paquin Towers, has used the service to order meals from Tequila Mexican Restaurant and Smokin’ Chick’s BBQ.
“Sometimes I get tired of ordering out from pizza places, and I want something different,” she said.
Michael and Meghan Canlas also like the variety Tiger’s Takeout offers. “We can eat wherever we want without having to go out,” he said.
Friedman, is developing new software for the company, which he hopes to eventually sell to other delivery service companies. He and Whorley are also interested in possibly expanding the business into a franchise. For now, these young entrepreneurs develop their business one delivery at a time.