Cars are so 2008. Jean Paul Beaulieu knew it when the recession hit and his 15-year tenure at Chiang Mai Thai suddenly became far less lucrative than it once was.
As an avid cyclist will usually do in times of strife, he turned to his bike. It seemed to offer answers. He knew he needed to get out of the food industry, but not entirely, because he loved it. So, what if he could combine the two? See also: Rock-It Bike Delivery: Bringing cupcakes, booze, and mice to your door
He approached his boss and the two of them cooked up a plan to deliver Chang Mai Thai cuisine via bike. And he did, for five years to great success. Over the past year he's expanded the restaurant list, the delivery area, and the systems. Now they're zipping all over town, packs bursting and balmy with noodles, tacos, banh mi, curries, enchiladas!
Things to know:
1. Lite Speed only delivers food. That's it -- no mice, no wine coolers, no cigarettes, no cat food. Their biggest local competition is currently Rock-it Bike Delivery, which delivers takeout, but also all of the above, or anything else within reason that can fit in a bike bag. But Beaulieu says that's not for him.
"I learned a lot about food handling and food safety at Chang Mai, and I know exactly what temperature food should be kept at, and I just want everything clean and waterproof for food only." He says his company has a "friendly rivalry" with Rock-it, and that they also do great work.
Also, Beaulieu knows food, and he knows food secrets of the city. For instance? La Poblanita grinds their own corn for tortillas. Lots of places make tortillas by hand, but who's grinding their own corn? La Poblanita, evidently. He saw it with his own eyes. Beaulieu knew this before we did. So you can pick his brain if you want to eat well!
2. There's nowhere they can't go (within their delivery area) that will take more than 20 minutes. "People are always so surprised at how fast we got there."
3. Yes, your food will be hot. "Some people, when they see our bike helmets, are taken aback. And you can see that reflected in the tip. But when they realize their food is just as fresh and hot as it would have been otherwise, they call us back, and they call us back again and again."
4. The delivery fee is currently $8 cash, but they're in the process of reducing it to $6.
5. Call your favorite restaurant (check their website to see if they work with Litespeed) or call Litespeed directly to order.
6. They deliver rain or shine, slush or sleet, snow or wintry mix, they just don't care. "We want everybody to stay home and be safe when the weather is like this. Call us, and we'll have your food on your coffee table, fast." Check their map for details on the delivery area, or call them. They're very nice.
7. "The best thing about riding a bike is it allows you to smile at the people around you." See? So nice.
Correction: The $8 ($6 as of April 1st) delivery fee applies to restaurants that are not official Litespeed partners. Partner restaurants are a $2 to $3 delivery fee.
Send your story tips to Hot Dish.