Sure, Harlem is experiencing a restaurant renaissance (Marcus Samuelsson just signed his lease, according to Fork in the Road), but not quickly enough for a couple of marketing veterans, Michael Leopold and Steve Friedson, who’ve lived in the neighborhood for the past five years and have been frustrated by the lack of delivery options. MenuPages lists 84 restaurant delivery spots in Harlem and a bit more than that in East Harlem, but Leopold tells us, “There’s not a lot of food here — it’s just very narrow around fried chicken, soul food, and Domino’s. If you want delivery, you can get Chinese from 50 blocks away, and if you want Italian it’s coming from the Bronx. And the Italian that comes from the Bronx isn’t so good.” That’s why they’re launching Harlem Delivers, which shuttles food from the outskirts of the neighborhood.
Currently, the team is working with four restaurants (Bodrum, Gabriela's, Fusha West, and Sol y Sombra), and their delivery covers the limited area from 145th Street to 149th Street and from Frederick Douglass Boulevard to Edgecombe Avenue. But that area (packed with new developments like the Langston, the Sutton, the Ellington, and the upcoming PS90) amounts to “14,000 NEW upscale Harlem households,” according to marketing materials that the team is giving Realtors and restaurants. With the goal of expanding to 30 to 50 restaurants (and eventually to the east side and up to 160th Street), they’re talking to restaurants like Café Luxembourg and a couple of vegan options, such as Blossom (a survey of potential clientele found that “they don’t like a lot of the greasy food that comes out of the restaurants up here”).
Harlem Delivers is currently hiring drivers who will work for tips as well as the $5.95 delivery fee, and the website (currently under construction) should go live in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, stay tuned via Facebook.