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Indianapolis needs more to-your-door delivery services

November 24, 2008
It's 8:30 on a Thursday night and I want something to eat. There is nothing in the fridge that satisfies. I'm not dressed to go out anywhere and don't feel like mingling. I really want something delicious delivered to my door.

A pizza is the first thing that comes to mind and Bazbeaux has come to my rescue before, but no, I want sushi or maybe something else Asian or maybe a great burger.

I live in the heart of Massachusetts Avenue, surrounded by pubs, independent restaurants and, not too far away, the "chains." One would think food delivery would be readily available, at least within a radius of a few blocks.

After all, this is downtown, urban living where folks like me have settled to have immediate access to things the 'burbs don't offer to the same degree. We like our bicycles and roaming around the neighborhood, walking the dog, running into our neighbors, spontaneously ducking into McNivens for a beer and talking about which nearby theater performance we're planning to see.

When I moved back home to Indianapolis from New York City, I chose downtown for that kind of lifestyle. And on the whole, I am very happy with it. Downtown Indianapolis is a great place to live, work and play. Lucas Oil Stadium, the Cultural Trail and the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association are all examples of forward thinking in action.

There is an essential component missing that I believe service businesses have to pay attention to and offer if they truly consider themselves "taking care of the city dwellers." One of them is to-your-door delivery and especially food, including groceries.

My compliments to places like Moody's Meats and others at the City Market who seem to be moving in the direction of offering home delivery. I hope they do.

I wonder why Marsh, the only full-service grocer downtown, does not.

Yes, I know I am spoiled. Absolutely anything and everything can be delivered to your door in Manhattan -- from your prescription to your shoe repair.

Speaking of shoe repair, "bravo" to Tony Cento of Cento Shoes, near Monument Circle, who picks up and delivers to your home or office. He took beautiful care of all the heels and soles on my shoes that had been battered by Manhattan streets. He makes it easy for me to do business with him because he delivers. He has an urban attitude.

But back to delivering groceries: At some point, someone smart is going to figure out how to do this and online. Fresh Direct in New York is one of the models.

Another mark of a city with an urban attitude is having a bodega nearby, where one can buy milk or juice without having to go all the way to the grocery store, that is open 24/7 or at least until 11 p.m. There is a bodega or two on every single block in New York City, and one can pick up a lottery ticket, a newspaper and a bunch of fresh flowers along with that milk.

Oh, and while I'm wishing, a real bakery in the neighborhood would be great, too.

Security issues and fear of not having enough business to sustain it are legitimate concerns. The housing slump is a deterrent and the credit crisis an obstacle for entrepreneurs who recognize that the neighborhood is ripe for service businesses.

But if Indianapolis is going to be a true center of urban lifestyle, if we are going to thrive in that regard, we have to embrace all the norms of city living.

So, is there anyone out there who will deliver that burger?

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Faenzi is an author, public speaker and vice president of business development for Rowland Design. She may be contacted at cfaenzi@rowlanddesign.com.
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