Rockaway Delivers: Getting to Know Your Local Delivery People

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 Delivery workers have become some of the unsung the heroes of coronavirus pandemic and during busy beach weekends when moving the car to pick up food becomes impossible. The Rockaway Times recently caught up with some of Rockaway’s local delivery workers who connect the community with delicious meals from local businesses.

For Anthony Quinn, delivering is a full-time job. For the past 13 years, he’s delivered food around Rockaway, including the past six years at Boardwalk Pizza in Arverne by the Sea. However, in recent months, as the demand for delivery drivers grows during a time when more people are resorting to takeout, and when other jobs or plans have been disrupted due to coronavirus, some locals are picking up deliveries for the first time. Rick Horan tested the waters with UberEats back in May but started in June with a steadier delivery gig at Pizza D’Amore on Beach 116th Street. Liz Hanna has been busy supporting local businesses through her RBNY: Rockaway Businesses Need You page, but she recently took it a step further by lending a helping hand to Kimo’s Kitchen as demand grows at the up-and-coming Mediterranean eatery in Rockaway Beach. We spoke with each of them about why they opted for delivery gigs and some of the benefits and challenges that come with the job.

For Quinn, the reason he’s been a longtime delivery person is simple—"It's easy, it’s local and it’s fun for me,” he said. “I like interacting with the community. I get to meet interesting people every day and see some familiar faces. I make my own schedule and I get to stay in my car, listening to music and I don’t have to work too hard.”

Horan got into delivering because well, he’s already done just about everything else! “I’ve had virtually every other job known to man and I had to check this box off,” he said. He also had some time. As things started to slow down at his job as a recruiter in recent years and Covid-19, “put the final nail in the coffin,” it was the perfect time to try something new. Beginning with UberEats, he quickly found himself going as far as mainland Queens and Brooklyn to make deliveries. But after three weeks, he wanted something a bit closer to home. Known as the “Idea Guy,” Horan got to thinking. He came up with 123 Deliveries, offering his own service to local restaurants that might need help with a filler delivery guy during busy times. Pizza D’Amore had a bigger need, and Horan has found himself delivering during evening shifts about six nights a week.

Hanna says she got into delivering simply because, “I kind of just needed something to do,” she said. Also, Mike Adil of Kimo’s really needed some help keeping up with increasing orders. “I like Mike and his family, and it seemed like the right timing for me…and I really do enjoy it,” Hanna said.

For all three, getting to interact with and meet new people has been a big plus for the job. “I’ve met hundreds of people that I normally wouldn’t have met because I don’t go out in Rockaway much. But I’m delivering to about 200 people a week, so I’m meeting new people all of the time,” Quinn said.

“I’ve met people that are all interesting in their own way and have their own story. Plus getting to know the people you work with and the reasons they got into the restaurant business makes it interesting,” Horan said.

For Hanna, the opportunity has even restored her faith in humanity, getting to interact with people beyond social media. “People can be such keyboard warriors online and spread a lot of hate, but I’m getting to see people face to face and it’s just not as bad as media and social media portrays things. I’ve been to every part of this peninsula and I enjoy meeting people from everywhere,” she said.

One of the perks of the job is tips, and overall, Rockaway’s local delivery workers say the tips are decent. “I don’t put a number to it, I just think people should tip based on the service and with what they feel comfortable,” Quinn said. But some tips have been better than others. His biggest tip? $30. For Horan, the same. But he added that most tips average about $5, or $10 to $20 for bigger orders. And on rare occasions, some have gotten no tip. With Kimo’s being one of the many local restaurants that offer Seamless and GrubHub app ordering options, Hanna says tips can sometimes be lower as people wind up paying high fees for such orders, and restaurants take a big cut in profit due to fees. While these services may be a good way to advertise local restaurants, Hanna says most businesses prefer that people call and order from the restaurant directly or utilize the restaurant’s website to order to avoid paying extra fees.

In unique times such as coronavirus, delivery people have adapted. All three delivery people say they make sure to wear masks and sanitize to keep themselves and customers safe. In some instances, they’ve had to accommodate requests for contactless delivery, leaving orders outside of homes and accepting tips by credit card. As Quinn has longtime experience to compare It to, he says, “There’s definitely less interaction. People I’d normally converse with tend to accept their food and run back into the house now. It’s made it less personal.”

Now with summer in full swing, traffic, especially on weekends, has become an added challenge. “The traffic is an absolute nightmare. We deliver up to Breezy and sometimes it will take an hour just to get there from Boardwalk. But even going to the local buildings is hard. Shore Front is also a disaster because you can’t get around. There are cars parked in the middle of the road to let people out or someone will slam on the brakes because they think they found a spot,” he said. “It’s really hard,” Hanna said. “I’m a good defensive driver, but I’ve never seen anything like this the past few weekends. You have a lot of angry people in cars, people that walk in front of your car, bikers… When we go to Breezy or Broad Channel, depending on the day, it can take an extra half hour. I think I did the same amount of deliveries as usual, but the weekend really brought me to my knees.” For Horan, beach deliveries are a unique challenge. “You show up and park at the end of the beach block and call the number of the person who ordered and sometimes no one answers. The beaches have bad cell coverage in some spots, so it really complicates it. So then you bring the pizza down to the beach and hope that the person that ordered looks up and sees you. I brought down a few pies to the beach one day and couldn’t get a hold of the person, so I wound up selling them to three other beachgoers who happened to be hungry,” Horan said. “You roll with the punches.”

So Rockaway, when ordering delivery, opt for direct orders over Apps, don’t forget to tip, have a little patience on busy summer days, make sure to pick up that call and most of all, enjoy your food!

 By Katie McFadden

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