High-Tech Carryout With ToGoOrder.com



Generally, I'm not a huge fan of ordering food for delivery. Part of it goes back to the fact that I'm still on the Domino's Pizza "no delivery" list from an old roommate who bounced a couple of checks 20 years ago, and my phone number must still set off their Caller ID alarm at corporate. But mainly, the prospect of food that's been sitting on a stranger's car seat while he makes who knows how many their deliveries before mine just doesn't appeal to me.

And while I love to get out of the house and spend a little time amongst other humans during the lunch hour, sometimes I just don't have the luxury of whiling away an hour in the middle of the work day. So I'm a big fan of carryout, where I can check my own order for correctness and rush it back to my house to eat it off of a real plate with a fork that won't snap under the slightest pressure. Other times, it's nice to pick up dinner and bring it home to share with my girlfriend after she's had a long day at work and neither one of us feels like cooking.

Now a new service called ToGoOrder.com has come along to help automate the process. With franchises in Nashville, Bowling Green, Portland, Ore., and Philadelphia, ToGoOrder.com has integrated the technological side of many of your favorite restaurants to allow a one-stop carryout portal for ordering. With a simple single registration, diners can see what restaurants are open, how long a wait there is in the kitchen before pick up, and actually facilitate the ordering and payment process.

In Nashville, restaurants offered range from neighborhood favorites like Vittles, Noshville, The Perch and McDougal's to higher-end establishments like Cabana and Amerigo. When you click through to a particular restaurant, their menu is displayed for easy ordering. You must give up your cellphone number, but this is not for marketing purposes. If there are any difficulties with your order, the restaurant will call you directly to clarify. Since you prepay as part of the service, all you have to do is grab your meal and go.

The participating restaurants absorb any fees associated with using the service, so ordering online costs the same to the consumer as calling or walking in to the restaurant, and if you've ever tried to get through on the phone during lunch rush, you know that can be a real pain in the tuchus. The real-time information on when your order will be ready is very helpful as well, especially if you're picking up food for the whole department at work. Rather than straightening out who wants their dressing on the side or chips instead of fries, each individual can enter their own order and one lucky samaritan can just show up at the appointed time and pick up the entire paid-for order.

So break the pizza chain and try out a new restaurant this week. Most of these places don't have delivery service anyway, so this might be the best way to experience their food in the warm comfort of your cubicle. Just don't spill any ranch dressing on your keyboard.

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