For three years, Uber drivers have been delivering Bakersfield passengers to their destinations. Starting Monday morning, they'll be bringing dinner to you.
UberEATS, an on-demand food delivery app and website, launches locally this week with nearly 50 restaurants prepared to send your breakfast, lunch or dinner out for delivery.
Pat Winter, senior operations manager for UberEATS Southern California, said the delivery area expands out from the Riviera/Westchester area, south as Panama Road, west to Highway 43, east to Highway 184 and north to 7th Standard Road.
"It's not a perfect square. Our plan to cover as large as possible," Winter said.
Much of that coverage area is determined by participating eateries. The dozen names that were available range from Mexican to sushi to American. They are Flame & Skewers, Johnny Garlic's, Sushi Time, Juicy Burger, Fresco Mexican Grill, Deli Delicious, Tea Bar, Mesa Grill, Boss Pizza, Foster's Donuts, Knife & Fork Bistro (in the City in the Hills development in northeast Bakersfield) and Tacos La Villa.
Tacos La Villa was the No. 1 requested eatery in a survey UberEATS launched last month when news broke the delivery service was coming to Bakersfield. The poll asked for a ZIP code, requested restaurants and any additional comments.
Winter said he was involved in compiling the local data, and the results impressed him.
"The response rate was phenomenal. We were surprised how engaged eaters were in Bakersfield. That was awesome. We’re all excited to be on the ground here."
UberEATS will not have a base of operations in town but has representatives that will be in market to check in during and after the launch.
The delivery service will rely on existing local Uber drivers but will also provide an opportunity for those who did not meet some requirements of the ride-hailing service, so those age 19 and up or those with Jeeps, convertibles and other two-door vehicles may apply.
We've got the drivers, but what will those late-night tacos run you? Winter said each order has a standard $5.99 fee added along with the cost of the order. Restaurants are not allowed to adjust pricing for the delivery service.
"A $10 sandwich (in store) should be a $10 sandwich at UberEATS," he said.
Participating restaurants pay an activation fee, which Winter declined to share. That cost includes the tablet the businesses use to process orders received through the app. Each order also includes a percentage that goes to UberEATS but Winter did not disclose those numbers.
As for delivery time, Winter said in similar markets, such as Fresno, the average wait time is around 15 minutes from restaurant to eatery. Drivers will also have delivery boxes to keep items at the optimal temperature.
More restaurants, including popular fast-food options (late-night Taco Bell, anyone?), will be added once UberEATS is up and running.
"We want to give eaters everything they want," Winter said.
UberEATS launches at 8 a.m. Monday; it's accessible via the app or ubereats.com.
How far can $5 get you? At Yogurtland Tuesday, you can make an Ultimate Creation. From 4 to 9 p.m., the frozen yogurt shop will offer customers the chance to build their own 16-ounce mix from the 16 available flavors, including two new limited-time options made with Ghirardelli, the shop's event partner.
The new flavors are frozen hot chocolate, a blend of rich Ghirardelli cocoa, cream, and marshmallow; and dark chocolate blueberry sorbet, inspired by Ghirardelli’s dark chocolate blueberry square.
Creations are made in "I Heart Ghirardelli" cups and can be customized with any of the dozens of toppings.
Yogurtland is at 10930 Stockdale Highway.
Cheers to CraSh!
While the celebration won't be as grand as it is in France — with fireworks, music and festivals — Bakersfield will have its own fete at CraSh Lounge Thursday with Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau Day.
The third Thursday in November is designated Beaujolais Nouveau Day, a celebration of the red wine made from Gamay grapes produced in the Beaujolais region of France. It is a popular vin de primeur, fermented for just a few weeks before it's released for sale.
The downtown bar will celebrate by pouring Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais starting at 2 p.m. and continuing throughout the day. Crash Lounge is at 1810 Eye St. Call 432-7954 for more information.
Free meals at Cafe Rio opening
When Cafe Rio Mexican Grill opens Nov. 29, it not only marks a new restaurant chain coming to Bakersfield but the first business to open in the Stockdale Center project.
What's the best way to celebrate that? With free food, of course. The first 300 people in line for the 10:30 a.m. "burrito ribbon" cutting will receive a free meal.
The Mexican restaurant will be part of a planned 7,000-square-foot food court, which will also include a Blaze Pizza and Jersey Mike's. Work continues on the rest of the 280,000-square-foot mixed-use development at the northeast corner of Coffee Road and Stockdale Highway. The center will feature a four-story, 120-room Hyatt Place hotel and a 6,000-square-foot Sully's store with Chevron gas pumps.
Cafe Rio operates 110 locations nationwide, 18 in California. It prides itself on using only the freshest ingredients in its made-to-order meals with a strict “no freezer and no microwaves” policy in each restaurant.
Along with the ribbon cutting, the restaurant will present a $2,500 check to Community Action Partnership of Kern, which was selected as its local community partner for the grand opening.
Cafe Rio Mexican Grill is at 200 Coffee Road.
A Dish deal
Restaurateur and The Dish fan Evan Aguilar wants to offer column readers a small treat. Head into Fresco Mexican Grill and mention you saw this article to receive a free order of chips and guacamole or platanos maduros (sweet fried plantains), which were recently added to the menu. The deal is good for online orders (frescomexicangrill.com/order-online); just add either chips and guacamole or platanos maduros to the cart, then use "thedish" code at checkout. Along with the plantains, the menu now also includes churros, posole (served daily), menudo on the weekends and citrus-marinated roasted chicken.