Cravings for meals from restaurants located outside of the New Tampa/Wesley Chapel area are many times easily extinguished by thinking about the travel time and traffic that will be encountered on the way to the eatery. However, one local company is making it as easy as a few clicks on a computer to have food from more than 140 restaurants from around Tampa Bay brought straight to your door, usually in less than one hour.
Started in 2009 by siblings and Hunter’s Green residents Jennifer Mekdeci, 31, and Chris Shelton, 28, Mobile Meals is a far-reaching food-delivery service that delivers meals from restaurants from Apollo Beach to Wesley Chapel.
Mobile Meals started in Brandon and keeps expanding, with a focus on technology and customer service.
“We started working with about eight restaurants (in Brandon) before expanding into South Tampa and eventually New Tampa and Wesley Chapel, because we’ve lived here for more than 20 years,” Jennifer says.
The entrepreneurial siblings are products of New Tampa’s schools, as each attended Hunter’s Green Elementary, Benito Middle School and Wharton High, before both graduated from the nearby University of South Florida, Mekdeci with a degree in elementary education and Shelton with a technical writing degree.
“But, we wanted to do our own thing,” Jennifer says.
“Neither of our degrees sounded that appealing to us (when we graduated), so we started thinking of ideas we could get behind,” Chris explains. “We decided on Mobile Meals because convenience is king, right now. We figured, ‘Everybody eats, so why not a food delivery service?’ We had seen it being done before, but we didn’t think that it was being done properly, so we decided to take the idea and improve upon it.”
How It Works
Whether you’re hungry for a burger from Oakley’s Grille, sushi from Yamato Japanese Steakhouse (in the Shops at Wiregrass mall), some hot wings from the BBD/Fletcher Ave. Hooters, a gyro from Acropolis Greek Taverna (also on BBD) or a slice of pizza from 900 Degrees (also in the Shops at Wiregrass), but don’t feel like going out, just go online.
Specifically, go to MobileMeals.com. At the site, several tabs will greet you, including “Order,” “Catering,” “Support” and “Blog.” Whether you’re ordering for just you or for a few, just click on “Order.” You’ll be taken to a page with featured restaurants, announcements and coupon codes for discounts on deliveries from specific restaurants and the options to search by zip code to see which restaurants in the area are available for delivery by Mobile Meals.
Once a restaurant is chosen, a full menu for the eatery pops up. By simply clicking on a menu item, the dish or drink will be added to your “shopping cart,” just like online shopping. Ordering by phone also is an option.
“About 90 percent of our customer base utilizes our online ordering,” Jennifer says. “It’s very easy to use. Delivery usually takes between 35-50 minutes, depending upon the restaurant.”
Once the order comes in, one of the seven staff members at Mobile Meals’ customer service center calls the order into the selected restaurant. Once the meal is ready, one of Mobile Meals’ 35 “mobile waiters” picks the order up from the restaurant and delivers it to the address provided in an insulated “hot box.”
The charge for delivery is only an additional $3.99 charge on top of what the meal costs at the restaurant. Using Mobile Meals is just like ordering a pizza; only it can be almost any meal from almost any genre of restaurant in Hillsborough County, as well as several in Wesley Chapel, including Cantina Laredo in the Shops at Wiregrass. And, Mekdeci says that at the core of their entire business is taking proper care of customers.
“Customer service is extremely important to us, and we strive to always ensure that our customers’ are completely satisfied,” Jennifer says.
Scott, a local Mobile Meals customer, agrees. “My wife and I use Mobile Meals two to three times per week,” he says. “In this day and age of lackluster customer service, I am amazed at the level of service given by the staff who answer the phones, all the way through to the delivery drivers who get us our food while it is still hot. Mobile Meals is fast and accurate. This is a great service with fantastic people working for it.”
In addition to residential meal deliveries, Mobile Meals also offers catering services for both businesses and private celebrations. A mobile waiter will deliver everything necessary for a self-serve catering event, including the food, utensils, napkins and plates.
“The beauty of our business is that you can use us not only for individual meal deliveries to businesses and homes, but also for catering,” Jennifer explains.
Jennifer says that Mobile Meals is planning on expanding into the Carrollwood area this spring.
“We have had many requests by customers and restaurants to expand to that area and are excited to be able to serve customers in that area very soon,” Jennifer explains, adding that Mobile Meals will be offering some of the same great restaurants already available and currently is in the process of adding restaurants in Carrollwood. She says that customers and potential restaurant partners can visit the “Announcement” section of the Mobile Meals website next month for more information and specific dates for the beginning of Carrollwood service.
“We’ve been lucky that our business has grown as fast as it has,” Jennifer says. “For Chris and I, the things we worried about with the business four years ago are things we’d probably laugh at now.”
Looking for a fast and convenient restaurant meal, but don’t want to have to drive to get it? Visit MobileMeals.com or call 907-MEAL (6325). Delivery hours are Mon.-Thur., 11 a.m.–1:30 p.m. & 4:30 p.m.– 9 p.m. The Fri.-Sat. hours are the same, but deliveries are available until 9:30 p.m. both days, & noon–9 p.m. on Sun.
To partner with Mobile Meals, visit MobileMeals.com, click on the “Support” tab, and then click on “Partnerships.”