CORRECTION: It was incorrectly reported that Pioneers Pizza, Nan's Thai Noodle and Que-Rico Colombian Flavors among restaurants signed up for Bite Squad third-party delivery. These businesses are not currently Bite Squad partners.

Port Charlotte’s Pioneers Pizza recently polled 523 customers on Facebook.

Did they want their pizza delivered or would they rather continue picking it up? A happily sedentary 87 percent voted “Bring me the pizza!”

They aren’t alone. According to the National Restaurant Association, 46 percent of smartphone users use their devices at least once a month to order restaurant takeout or delivery. And a whopping 74 percent of millennials would order delivery from a table-service restaurant if they could.

More and more households want their favorite restaurants to come to them.

But when Pioneers completed its poll, nobody knew exactly how the pizzeria was going to manage this.

Now they do. Pioneers has become one of 30 restaurants in North Port, Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda to launch Bite Squad delivery on Sept. 1.

Bite Squad — a six-year-old, Minneapolis-based online and mobile food delivery service — has experienced explosive growth, now partnering with over 10,000 restaurants in 300 cities and 15 states. Since late 2016, it has spread to over 40 Florida communities, focusing on many areas that didn’t have third-party delivery.

Already established in Sarasota and Fort Myers, Bite Squad will be the first third-party delivery service in our area since the demise of GoWaiter.

A very different model, it avoids independent contractors, instead hiring driver-employees — professional, trained, uniformed and equipped with delivery bags that keep food hot or cold and fresh.

The service has so far hired 20 local drivers and anticipates as many as 30 more.

Each partner restaurant receives a tablet, where customer orders arrive from the Bite Squad app or website, www.bitesquad.com. The eatery provides a pickup time, which cues the driver, and the customer is kept updated on arrival time up until delivery.

In the app, customers pay menu price, plus a delivery fee ranging from $2.99 to $4.99 based on a maximum distance of 7 miles, which Bite Squad finds optimal for fast, fresh arrival.

At launch, Bite Squad will offer delivery from 30 local favorites, including Isabel & Annabel’s Mexican Restaurant, Mint Asian Cuisine, Cafe Creole, Que-Rico Colombian Flavors, All-Star Sports Grill, Pioneers Pizza, Nan’s Thai Noodle, Curry & Kabab, Leroy’s and RJ’s New England Seafood, as well as popular chains like Applebee’s, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s and Hooters. Bite Squad regional trainer Ryan Pasley expects to continue signing up a new restaurant every day after the program goes live.

Bite Squad also offers a monthly subscription service, ranging from $5.99 to $9.99, which pays for unlimited deliveries. “It’s like the Netflix of food,” said Bite Squad media relations manager Liz Sniegocki.

Anyone who orders through the service during its grand-opening weekend, between 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 7 and 10 p.m. on Sept. 9, will receive a free unlimited delivery subscription for a full year. Visit https://go.bitesquad.com/portcharlotte for details.

Bite Squad offers a clear advantage for stores like Pioneers, Mint Asian Cuisine in Punta Gorda and The Crepe Chef in Port Charlotte, which don’t currently deliver. In return for an increase in delivery sales which they wouldn’t otherwise see, they pay 25 percent to Bite Squad on each order, for which Bite Squad handles all accounting.

Kim Berly at The Crepe Chef in Port Charlotte said, “I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes. I’ll be watching for orders on our new Bite Squad tablet.”

Even eateries that rely heavily on their own deliveries are seeking the incremental sales promised by Bite Squad. Though 80 percent of Charlie’s Subs’ sales are already deliveries, co-owner Julio Aguilar said, “It will bring extra customers to my (Charlotte Harbor) shop.”

To learn more or to download the Bite Squad mobile app, visit bitesquad.com.

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