AKRON, Ohio – When it’s time to eat, a new player entering the food-delivery service in Akron is ready to bring food to you.

Jamie Banks is set to launch Time to Eat Akron next week. Banks is an independent owner in the company, which is based in Fresno, California. It has been around since 2004.

It will cover most of Akron, he said, which by his estimates means potentially 1,100 restaurants in an area of 300,000 people. The restaurants will have to agree to partner with Time to Eat Akron via Google food ordering. Banks – who lives in Akron – said he trains and vets his drivers locally.

It’s similar to DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub and other major players in the delivery business, which saw a boon during stay-at-home orders in the coronavirus pandemic.

“The difference is we’re a little more friendly on the restaurants’ bottom line, meaning line we don’t take as much a percentage as the other ones do,” said Banks, who previously worked for Sherwin-Williams and also lived in Las Vegas doing volunteer work.

“Typically, they go to my website, pick out the type of cuisine they want, click on it, and order it from there. If I partner with a restaurant they can go on their website” and make their food-delivery choice.

“Since the pandemic this industry has exploded, and they kind of got hammered – the restaurants did – in paying out to third-party delivery services.”

Time to Eat Akron asks restaurants for 10% of the order for partnering.

Other national food-delivery companies made news during the pandemic, when 30% rates were common – and raised eyebrows. In fact, in November 2020 during the height of the pandemic, Cleveland City Council capped the fees that DoorDash and competitors could charge restaurants in the city. Then city council president Kevin Kelley and other council members slammed what they saw as an instance of companies “taking advantage of a sector of the economy that is not doing very well.”

The first step to let people learn about Time to Eat Akron, Banks said, is grassroots marketing through canvassing area eateries, pounding the pavement – anything to get the word out.

“The local aspect has been huge,” said Banks, 43. “A lot of people have told me, ‘Oh, we like local, and you live right here, right?’ “

Banks is basing his business on the friendlier rate for restaurants and the local aspect. He’ll see how things go before taking any next steps.

“It’s a possibility to expand in the immediate future,” he said, but added, “I’m going to have my hands full here, with 300,000 population.”

I am on cleveland.com’s life and culture team and cover food, beer, wine and sports-related topics. If you want to see my stories, here’s a directory on cleveland.com. Bill Wills of WTAM-1100 and I talk food and drink usually at 8:20 a.m. Thursday morning. Twitter: @mbona30.

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