SoulFood Coffehouse co-owner Makia Oaks (left) and FlyBuy CEO Wil Merritt at the FlyBuy pick-up point behind the coffee shop. Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter

FlyBuy Technologies launches with Redmond restaurants

A number of restaurants and coffee shops in Redmond are now offering customers one more way to get their grub, thanks to a Seattle-based startup.

With the mobile app FlyBuy, customers can place their orders and pay for coffee or meals ahead of time and have their order ready and hand delivered to their car for a curbside pickup. The app uses GPS locating to allow businesses to see when a customer is arriving so they can bring out the order — no parking necessary, no need to stand in line.

Evan Ziebell, marketing manager for FlyBuy, said the Pioneer Square company is about two years old, having started providing services in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Redmond has been FlyBuy’s first venture onto the Eastside, Ziebell said. The restaurants that are currently participating are SoulFood CoffeeHouse, Chaat N Roll (two locations), Flying Saucer Pizza, Grand Peking, Gyro World, Hugo’s, Nasai Teriyaki, Taqueria El Gallo, River Trail Roasters, Hoffman’s Fine Cakes and Pastries and Creperie de Paris.

There are also a few restaurants in Issaquah, Bellevue and Kent that are participating.

“Most restaurants take very well to the idea,” Ziebell said about FlyBuy’s concept, adding that they are always working to bring more businesses on board.

FlyBuy CEO Wil Merritt added that people are looking to get their food in different ways.

“I think there’s some evolution in the restaurant business,” he said.

Merritt initially got involved with the company about a year ago and became CEO in September 2016. He said when he learned about FlyBuy’s curbside pickup model, he thought, “Wow, this is amazing.”

According to a FlyBuy press release, Merritt is excited for the opportunity to expand in Redmond.

“We chose Redmond because it has the perfect blend of great restaurants and tech savvy consumers,” Merritt said in the release. “FlyBuy provides more convenient options for people to ‘Live better on the fly.’”

Merritt’s wife agreed. He said when he first discussed it with her, he said she wished they’d had this option when she was ferrying around their son’s water polo team — as a lot of times fast food would be the quick option to feed a lot of people.

Merritt said FlyBuy gives people a healthier option than fast food.

For now, FlyBuy has focused on working with independent companies as a way to support local businesses, with added convenience.

“You can support these businesses on a daily basis,” Ziebell said.

FlyBuy is also a new way for businesses to bring in customers.

Makia Oaks, one of the co-owners at SoulFood Coffeehouse, said they added the FlyBuy service in hopes to bring in more customers in the morning. She said while they are typically slow in the mornings, there is usually a line of cars in the drive-thru lane at the Starbucks that shares the same parking lot.

Oaks said they want to give the community a chance to support local businesses and for those who want to stay in their car when picking up their morning coffee, SoulFood now offers that option.

She said from a business owner’s perspective, it was simple to set up and work the FlyBuy app. When an order comes in, their tablet “dings” until someone confirms that they have seen the order or they receive a phone call to let them know about the order.

Merritt said since the app uses GPS locating, businesses can track where a customer is when they are on their way and their location is color coded based on their distance from the business. Businesses can see when a customer arrives and bring out their order in a manner of seconds.

In addition to the convenience of not having to get out of the car — a benefit for anyone, ranging from people commuting to work in the morning to parents with kids in the car to pet owners who don’t want to leave their animals in the car alone — Merritt said FlyBuy also frees up parking spaces as drivers just have to stop for the pick up and carry on their way.

“Parking really is at a premium in most cities,” he said.

According to FlyBuy’s research, Merritt said about 30 percent of traffic in cities is due to people circling around looking for parking, adding that there are also those who have given up a trip to a restaurant or coffee shop because they couldn’t find parking.

FlyBuy’s curbside pickup is also convenient for those who end up eating in their cars, Merritt said.

“We’re giving them some new options (for where to eat or get coffee),” he said.

FlyBuy is free and available on iTunes at tinyurl.com/hnobld2 and Google Play at tinyurl.com/guasu2r. For the month of March, FlyBuy is offering an introductory promotional code “REDMOND” for new users to download the app and receive 20 percent off food orders.