Punta Gorda ranks as one of the best cities for working in the food delivery business, according to a recent study by AdvisorSmith, a small business research website.

Gig workers, as they are called, averaged earnings of $18,518 per year in Punta Gorda, versus $16,923 nationwide.

In its analysis, AdvisorSmith examined data from the U.S. Census Bureau reported from tax returns, showing earnings and employment data for gig workers in the delivery industry.

“We examined 376 cities to find the places where gig workers earn the most on a cost-of-living adjusted basis, and where gig work is plentiful,” said spokesperson Brenda Franco. “We found the 50 best cities for gig economy delivery workers, along with the top 20 small, midsize, and large cities.”

In the small city category with population of under 200,000, Punta Gorda came in at No. 7.

The food and grocery delivery business was non-existent not too many years ago. In fact, the presence of Bite Squad, Door Dash, GrubHub and Uber Eats delivery workers is rather recent. The services began to provide delivery in Punta Gorda a scant two to three years ago. Before that, either restaurants would deliver or else the customer would pick up their own food, or dine in.

But that all changed with the advent of delivery services that provided both convenience and, during the pandemic, necessity.

Not all restaurant owners and managers are pleased with the delivery companies, however. We spoke with owners and managers of six popular eateries, and got only negative comments, including some from Diane Amaral who, along with her husband Doug, own both River City Grill and Italia located in downtown Punta Gorda.

Amaral said that she prefers having her staff bring food out to her customers’ cars, as her customers have reported glitches in using the services. Among the complaints, she said, was a customer who said that when the food was delivered, “it was all over the place.”

Some complained about the higher charges, and inside the restaurant the staff would get automated messages from the delivery companies, which would come in the midst of trying to serve patrons at peak hours. However, those who use the services will certainly be accommodated, Amaral emphasized.

One counter person at a popular pizzeria that has two locations, said that after customer complaints, she banned a driver and his company, only to have him reappear later working for a competitor.

And still a third staff member at a popular seafood restaurant said that her restaurant preferred that customers do their own takeout, or dine in, as having the food delivered hot and on time could not be guaranteed.

But in these pandemic times, more and more people are using the food delivery services as well as grocery delivery services such as Instacart.

And gig delivery workers in Punta Gorda would undoubtedly be glad to know that they are working in an area where the potential for higher earnings exists in their industry.

Other small cities and their rankings were:

1. Beckley, West Virginia

2. Homosassa Springs, Florida

3. Cheyenne, Wyoming

4. Yuba City, California

5. Pueblo, Colorado

6. Redding, California

8. Morgantown, West Virginia

9. Kokomo, Indiana

10. Victoria, Texas

Overall, the top three cities, regardless of size, were Beckley, West Virginia, where workers earned an average of $28,149 in a city with a very low cost of living; Tyler, Texas, where gig workers averaged $31,276 in a city with a low cost of living and host to the University of Texas; and Homosassa Springs, Florida, where workers averaged $28,744.

AdvisorSmith in its report said that as online commerce and ordering become more a part of the fabric of our everyday lives, delivery work is becoming more integral to our economy on a daily basis: “Americans have become accustomed to having everything from groceries to toilet paper to pizza delivered to their door minutes after tapping on their smartphones. Additionally, the rise of phones and online platforms has allowed more workers to join the gig economy.”


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