High gas prices: Delivering dinner comes with a bite

7:10 PM, Mar 11, 2011   |    comments
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  • High gas prices: Delivering dinner comes with a bite
  • High gas prices: Delivering dinner comes with a bite
  • High gas prices: Delivering dinner comes with a bite

MINNEAPOLIS -- At Dulono's Pizza on Lake Street they prefer to think about fueling families, not cars.

But delivery driver Joe Riera has a thirsty Jeep Grand Cherokee to feed, and with gas above $3.50 a gallon, an extra $5 to $10 a night coming out of his pocket.

"On a regular night $25 to $30 dollars" goes toward gas in the SUV Riera's owns and drives as an independent contractor.

So far Dulono's has held the line on pizza prices and delivery fees, even as its food suppliers are imposing fuel surcharges and price hikes.

Day manager Nick Loescher says it results in a squeeze.

"The economy doesn't really give us room to, you know, 'let's just raise the price.' I mean the economy's suffering."

Gopher Grocery is holding off on fuel surcharges too. In fact the six-year-old online grocery delivery company claims it actually saw a sales bump the last time gas prices spiked three years ago, an increase driven by customers who decided it was cheaper to leave their cars in the garage.

"Our delivery fee at two dollars is half the price of a gallon of gas," said Billy Orkin, the owner of Gopher Grocery. Orkin is also benefitting from a conversion of his five van fleet to new and more efficient diesel vans. "So this truck gets 18 miles per gallon which is pretty good," reports Zack Dunbar, a Gopher Delivery driver.

Lunds and Byerly's, another Twin Cities grocer offering home delivery, has no plans to impose fuel surcharges either. Spokesman Aaron Sorenson said it would take a major fuel price increase to "force us to change our pricing structure."

Back on Lake Street it's harder for Dulono's delivery drivers to find a silver lining. "Should have planned ahead better," laughed Jerry Richardson. "Should have went to medical school, lawyer, whatever."

Loescher says it wouldn't hurt for the public to give some thought to the drivers' plight. "Hopefully people that they're delivering to will realize that and tip them a little more."

Reira, who is handy with a wrench, plans to look for answers at a salvage auction. "Hopefully this week I'm going to buy a small car, save me some money; good on gas."

For now he's delivering dinner -- and feeling the bite.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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