On the Go with Crimson2Go

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, delivery services like Crimson2go were made for college students who didn’t want to get out of bed. Now, they are the safest method possible to get a meal from your favorite restaurant. 

Crimson2go was started in the summer of 2012 by Kevin Johnson and Ben LaPish. LaPish was finishing school in Georgia when he and Johnson decided to move to Alabama and start an Alabama-themed online delivery service.

“Delivery services like ours had been attempted in the past, but the technology was not there to make the logistics [work],” LaPish said. “We, however, had access to a new software which gave us the tools to make it work.”

LaPish and Johnson went door-to-door to promote their service, handing out free merchandise and speaking with potential restaurant partners. Now, approximately nine years in, Crimson2go is used by all kinds of Tuscaloosa residents.

“We serve a large part of the community that cannot travel to grocery stores or restaurants at will, whether it be because of age, illness, not having transportation, etc.,” LaPish said. “We also serve many hard-working people in Tuscaloosa who work through their lunch shifts in fields such as medical service, salons, retail, banks, and many more.”

The delivery service works with all types of eateries over town, both small businesses and big restaurant chains alike. Some of those businesses include Dillard’s Chophouse, Full Moon BBQ and Tropical Smoothie.

In regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, LaPish said Crimson2go has been impacted both positively and negatively.

“The beginning of the pandemic hit, and all the students were sent home to do virtual schooling. We lost a large amount of business due to those students leaving, but we worked hard to stay open, and we soon saw some growth from our local residents here in Tuscaloosa,” he said.

A new market of customers appeared, individuals who are at risk for COVID-19 or live with family members who could be and Crimson2go began implementing new protocols.

“We started shipping in masks and sanitizer by the five-gallon bucket as soon as we could,” LaPish said. “We implemented a no-contact delivery system so that [the] drivers could leave the food at the door and contact the customer as soon as they left.”

Wren Thomley, a driver for Crimson2go of two years, said he is pleased with his overall experience working with the local company since he’s from Tuscaloosa. However, he’s been conflicted about how the coronavirus has affected the business. 

“It’s made it better and worse,” Thomley said. “In the beginning, [business] definitely increased because of the pandemic but, at this point, it’s hurt us a lot, too, because there’s so many delivery services now, and being a local company makes it a lot harder.” 

Tyler Walker, Tuscaloosa’s Nothing But Noodles manager, said he appreciates Crimson2go for their persistence and excellent work ethic during this troubling time for restaurants. 

“Our to-go orders alone have [definitely] increased,” Walker said. “If we didn’t have Crimson2go, Waitr and Grubhub, we wouldn’t do as well as we do.”

For the three years Nothing But Noodles has partnered with them, Walker said they’re up to around 63,000 orders.

“They’re probably our best delivery service [when] comparing them [based on] customer service, their ratings, how quickly they are to come get the food,” Walker said. “As far as small businesses, they’ll be here for a long time.”

Walker likes Crimson2go because their services aren’t nearly as expensive as other delivery apps. Plus, their payments are already calculated through upcharges on the restaurant’s menu on the Crimson2go website.  

Walker also noted that he had a personal connection with Crimson2go. 

“I know a couple of Crimson2go drivers that are friends of mine, and they do this for a living,” he said. “Started at UA and they’re still working for Crimson2go now.”

That is the case for one driver, David, a driver who requested his last name remain private for privacy concerns, who is thankful for the company’s support during such a troublesome time for work.

“Working for Crimson2go has been a great way for me to supplement my income during the pandemic when I can’t work my normal 9 to 5,” he said.

Richard, another driver who requested anonymity for privacy concerns, recommends Crimson2go for their fluidity.

“Crimson2go has been a fun, exciting job while giving me the flexibility to go to school and work when I have time,” he said. 

LaPish anticipates that Crimson2go will continue to prosper and spread to other cities as well as in town.

“We hope to be able to prove to our customers that supporting local businesses like ours will give them far better service than any of the other big chain delivery [companies] because we truly care about our customers,” LaPish said.