Heroes of the Pandemic: Delivering local food

Published 5:29 pm Thursday, May 7, 2020

Heavy government restrictions caused all local restaurants to close their dining rooms late March.

Although many eateries still offer carryout, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s Stay-at-Home Order means many Farmville residents are hoping to avoid making trips outside of the house as much as possible.

Additionally, restaurants that don’t typically offer delivery have had to look into new ways of bringing their cuisine to customers.

One company that has provided solutions for these problems and encountered a bright side to the COVID-19 pandemic is Farmville’s own Wayfast Delivery.

Wayfast partners with local restaurants to deliver food all over town. Customers can order from the menus of a variety of businesses listed on Wayfast’s website. Wayfast then picks up the order and delivers to the address provided at checkout.

The service has helped to keep local restaurants open during the outbreak.

The company’s standard delivery fee is $3, although the price may vary between restaurants, and this fee does not include a tip. A $15 order minimum is required.

Right on the frontlines of Wayfast’s mission to keep eateries open is employee Blake Tharpe.

Tharpe, age 23, has been working at Wayfast for more than a year and now serves as a manager. He can usually be found working the front desk to direct orders and assign deliveries but often heads out to deliver orders when the day is especially busy.

Tharpe grew up in the Charlotte Court House area and graduated from Randolph Henry High School in 2014. He now lives in Farmville with his family. His hobbies include spending time with his children, skateboarding and raising pet ducks.

Tharpe said the company saw an increase in restaurants interested in working with the delivery service once government restrictions surrounding the pandemic began to be put in place. Wayfast has since added several businesses to its delivery options.

Additionally, the company has actually hired three new delivery drivers as a result of the increase in sales. Tharpe noted that Wayfast averaged around 70-75 orders on a typical weekday before the pandemic occurred. That number has increased to an average of 90 orders on weekdays and 100 orders each day of the weekend, with two to three drivers on duty during regular business hours.

“Things have been really busy,” he remarked.

Wayfast has been working to ensure food is delivered both quickly and safely.

“One of the big things we’ve been doing is a bunch of the restaurants have been trying to make the pickup contactless,” Tharpe explained. “There’s some where we’ll call them when we get there, and they come outside and we make limited contact to grab the order. Most of the time we don’t even get out of our car for that.”

The food delivery service workers make sure to sanitize their hands and workspaces properly, and the company’s headquarters are cleaned thoroughly each night.

Tharpe added Wayfast offers contactless delivery options. Customers can enter special delivery notes at the bottom of their order and specify details like wanting their meals left on the doorstep. Wayfast includes an option to tip its drivers via credit card online as well, eliminating the hassle of worrying about leaving a cash tip.

Tharpe said he was impressed with local restaurants’ ability to adapt during the crisis. He finds joy in his work, knowing that he is helping local businesses to move product and aiding citizens in staying home while still enjoying local cuisine.

He added that in the face of such trying times, customers have been exceptionally generous, and drivers are seeing an overall increase in tips for their service.

Reflecting upon his fellow Wayfast team members, Tharpe emphasized the hard work of all of his fellow employees.

“I’m proud of all of them. They’re doing a great job. I love them all.”

Although he keeps his spirits high, Tharpe looks forward to a time in the future when things return to normal and he can enjoy outings with his family. He hopes to still be able to hold a family beach trip in July, and misses sitting down in a restaurant to eat.

For now, he will continue to work hard and keep Farmville residents eating delicious, local food. Delivering local food