WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A pair of Williams College students are turning a joke into a serious effort to establish a small business.
Wyatt Khosrowshahi and Brennan Lee were on track to be completing their senior year right now, but each decided to take a year off because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the prospect of having to finish their college careers with remote classes.
But they kept their off-campus housing for the year, and they are making the most of it.
"We were both here this summer together, and it was interesting, because we had a group of friends who we knew were going to have to quarantine until they got two negative tests," Khosrowshahi said last week. "We were joking with them and saying, 'Because we're living off campus, we could deliver food to your doorstep.
"Then we said, maybe we can make a business out of this."
Thus was born Ephs Delivers, which looks to fill a service gap for both students and townies in the town of 7,700.
"Having been residents for a while, we realized there are not a lot of options for food delivery," Khosrowshahi said. "On top of that, we heard how much businesses on Spring Street were struggling, especially with the loss of students in the spring and having half as many students as usual around now."
The pair said national food delivery services like Grubhub and DoorDash do not have a strong foothold in the town, and, for students who are supposed to follow social distancing protocols, there is a comfort level in getting deliveries from fellow students.
Ephs Delivers charges a $5 flat delivery fee on orders up to $35. Over that, it charges 15 percent.
The service offers meal deliveries from local restaurants for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 8.
"When people are ordering, they say it's for takeout, and we go and pick it up," Lee said.
"It's not flagged on the order. The people at the restaurant know us when we come to pick it up."
The pair has done their marketing through social media and word of mouth and has a Google form that customers can access through the Ephs Delivers Facebook page to set up deliveries. They are looking to get a website up and going to provide another point of sale for their services.
In addition to contactless deliveries from local restaurants, Eph Delivers offers the same service for Stop & Shop, the local supermarket that was "out of bounds" for Williams students during September before the college adjusted its COVID-19 protocols earlier this month.
Lee said the pair are getting better at being "personal shoppers" the more experience they have.
"On the Google forms, we ask people to be as specific as possible," he said. "If [the order] is not too specific, we'll choose the least expensive version. But we also have all our customers' numbers. So we'll just text them and ask, 'Is this what you wanted?' We're getting faster and faster as we know the store better.
"Picking out produce hasn't been an issue so far. People will give us an instruction, like, 'Two of the ripest avocadoes you can find.' "
Grocery store orders are due by 2 p.m. each day, and Eph Delivers has the groceries delivered by 5. But Khosrowshahi and Lee said they can adjust the time if no one will be home to take delivery.
"We're in constant contact with them," Khosrowshahi said. "They'll say, '5 p.m. doesn't work. But can we do this other time?' Usually it's like 5:40, and we can keep groceries that long, so it's not an issue."
On the restaurant meal delivery side, the pair is looking to expand its service to include restaurants outside the immediate campus area and even into North Adams, where it is hoping to include the Trail House and Mingo's.
And Khosrowshahi and Lee plan to continue Ephs Delivers next year when they are finishing their course work in political science and biology, respectively.
Right now, the two say they can keep up with the demand by doing all the deliveries themselves, but expansion is not out of the question.
"At that point, we'd look to employ people and run the operational side ourselves," Khosrowshahi said. "It depends on what demand is looking like at that point.
"I personally think that even putting aside the pandemic, there's going to be demand for a food delivery service in Williamstown and at Williams College."
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to email@example.com.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Clark Art Institute presents an opportunity to explore steady opposition to the use of color in printmaking in nineteenth-century France.
"Hue & Cry: French Printmaking and the Debate over Colors" presents a array of French color prints from the Clark's works-on-paper collection, by artists including Pierre Bonnard, Mary Cassatt, Paul Cézanne, Jules Chéret, Maurice Denis, Camille Pissarro, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Édouard Vuillard.
The exhibition is on view Dec. 11, 2021 through March 6, 2022.
"Color prints are so widely accepted and beloved today that it's hard to understand the early opposition that these works received," said Olivier Meslay, Hardymon Director of the Clark. "While the controversy over color might seem quaint, this exhibition tells a fascinating story to explain the ways in which the art world confronted this change. Beyond the intriguing look at how public taste and critical opinion collided, we think that our visitors will find great delight in exploring these beautiful prints."
The initiative grew out of a recent listening session several DIRE Committee members conducted at the Harper Center. They heard a number of concerns, including issues with parking, interpersonal conflicts in the apartment complex and the need for cooling station access during extreme weather.
click for more