Following the success of its Douglas County Meal Plan, LoCo Omaha will begin regular operations in early February as Omaha’s only locally-owned restaurant delivery service.
Established in 2020, LoCo Omaha is the city’s locally-owned and operated restaurant delivery service. Unlike third-party services, LoCo Omaha is owned by local restaurants.
In December 2020, LoCo Omaha received $500,000 from Douglas County Commissioners to enlist local, independent restaurants in providing 7,000 family meals. As part of the meal program, LoCo Omaha initially provided 7,000 vouchers to food assistance programs but evolved to also deliver bulk meal orders directly to food assistance lines and pantry programs in collaboration with its nonprofit partners.
“Usually we give out the staples, but we don’t often get fully prepared meals,” said Gillian Cromwell, pantry manager for Society of St. Vincent de Paul. “What LoCo’s been offering has been an excellent supplement to what we’re doing.”
“I’m dropping off food to a mom with three kids under the age of five and she’s almost in tears,” said Micah McGaffin, a driver for LoCo Omaha. “People in need are getting food, and right now it’s really important.”
After serving almost 30,000 individual meals through the program, LoCo Omaha will continue to provide ordering options via its website and app for Android and iPhone. Formed as a co-op of local restaurant owners, the company offers lower prices and superior customer service to keep profits in the community, unlike national third-party services such as Grubhub or DoorDash, which take as much as a 30% commission. As the service launches, LoCo Omaha is continuing to accept applications from restaurants, drivers, and dispatchers from the Recruitment tab on the website.
“Local restaurants are a critical component of our economic and cultural fabric,” said Brian O’Malley, co-op president. “Making sure they have the tools to thrive is essential to living in a vibrant city.”
LoCo Omaha is based on a proven and sustainable model launched in Iowa City in 2017 by Jon Sewell with Chomp. delivery. This co-operative model allows restaurants to control the delivery process and earn a share of the profits, helping to pay rents and keep restaurant workers busy.
"This Omaha LoCo co-op is a way to support local restaurants specifically, with much lower fees,” said Robert Malm, owner of Hook & Lime, a pilot member of the co-operative. “I'm happy to support it and I'm thrilled that something like this has come to the Omaha area."
(Photo by WOWT 6 News)