Good Uncle Tests New Delivery System

Gideon Hamot, Assistant Colgate Sports Editor

The addition of the service on cam- pus is welcome, as the Hamilton food scene can get repetitive quite quickly and the late night options are often limited to one little storefront on the corner of Lebanon and Maple (apologies to those who find joy in the infamous Jug Dog). In Good Uncle, Colgate students have found what they have been waiting for.

The service’s smartphone app allows users to place food orders from anywhere on campus and, within an average range of 10 to 30 minutes, have food delivered to them at a specified drop point. The food is pre-cooked daily in the Good Uncle kitchen in Syracuse, driven to campus, and then assembled in the delivery van when the order is placed. The result is hot food that is delivered quickly and efficiently. Furthermore, the lack of actual human interaction required means that the price of meals is often on par with some of the cheaper restaurants in Hamilton.

Despite operating for just over a month, Founder Wiley Cerilli said Good Uncle has made a considerable mark on campus; nearly 40 percent of Colgate students have ordered from the app – a number that has greatly exceeded the company’s expectations – and many students return to Good Uncle after their first order. The large number of orders has put considerable strain on the Good Uncle system.

“There has been a huge amount of issues because of the overwhelm- ing reception. Busted Tires, batteries out,” Cerilli said.

Cerilli spent a decade at Seamless, which merged with Grubhub in 2013. But Cerilli says improvements to Good Uncle are underway and that this past month has been a learning experience for the young company. Cerilli said he hopes Good Uncle will be the fastest growing startup in the food industry in 2019.

Cerilli came up with the idea for Good Uncle as he saw the world of online interactions changing around him.

“I’ve seen a ton of innovation since we started Seamless, in creating marketplaces. [When] buying airplane tickets, you used to call the airline up [and] each airline had their own website. Now you can go somewhere and see all the prices and buy from a third party. We believe 50 percent of restaurants in ten years will not have storefronts,” Cerilli said. Cerilli said that the decision to come to Colgate was an easy one. “We believe location should not be a limiting factor in you having good food. There are a thousand places we can go that Starbucks can’t. And that’s a very compelling story for investors,” Cerilli said.

On campus, one can see the black Good Uncle van making rounds on most nights.

Gideon’s Review:

I decided to try out the app and see what all the fuss was about. I pulled out my phone and looked through the menu, which is organized by section based on food type (brunch, homestyle, burgers, etc). I ordered the mac and cheese and a smashed burger along with a water bottle to the 113 Broad/Bryan/Read drop-off point, which is right in front of the gym. Within 20 minutes, I received a text telling me the driver was at the drop point and I had five minutes to pick up my meal. At the van, I said my name and my meal was given to me in a plastic bag.

With convenience like that, the food didn’t have to be good for me to order again, but it surpassed all of my expectations. The smashed burger was juicy and covered in melty cheese with thin buns, avoiding the all-too-common burger pitfall of a poor meat-to-bun ratio. It was an item I could see myself ordering at a restaurant downtown late at night and, with the convenience of delivery to practically my doorstep, I will likely have again. The mac and cheese continued the impressive dis- play with creamy cheese covering perfectly cooked pasta. As someone who eats frequently at Frank, I have grown to appreciate this tiny detail. At $5.99, it’s a quality, complete meal for a price that is nearly half of that of a meal downtown.

With a price between $6 and $11, Good Uncle not only is cheaper than most other places in town but also provides delivery. While Colgate is one of the first campuses to host the service, Cerilli said that Good Uncle will soon be spreading across the east coast.

Its massive success in such a short time on campus does beg the question of how restaurants downtown will compete with the newcomer. While late night options will always be limited and there’s little chance of Slices going anywhere soon, Good Uncle offers convenience and food options to steal the dinner crowd from sit down restaurants downtown, an area where there is already quite a bit of turnover.

Contact Gideon Hamot at [email protected]