Austin-based food-delivery service Favor discovers southern Dallas won’t stomach being ignored
Shawn Scott didn’t expect to spend his Sunday in Austin doing a Twitter delivery service. The founder and CEO of the non-profit organization Hack My Future at Exposition Park-HQ had much more pressing problems to solve, such as preparing the curriculum for summer camps with computer coding. But sometimes you just can’t help but drop everything and jump into the ring. Sometimes the fight chooses you.
“And it had to be done,” Scott later said, pausing between laps. “It is what it is. People have to talk about it and call people when they’re wrong and fix it. Because it doesn’t work well if you act like nothing is wrong.”
Here’s what’s wrong. Very, very wrong.
Favor, the grocery delivery app launched in Dallas in 2014, does not serve southern Dallas. And it’s very, very obvious to exclude the southern half of the city: the current delivery area map uses Interstates 30 and 35E as hard boundaries. The map, which replaces the more familiar red line with a blue border, is an ugly thing – a shameful short story of racism in Dallas made by people who don’t even live here, but remotely shop into the city’s worst stereotypes Nevertheless.
In short, it means someone who lives or works across the street from Fair Park cannot get groceries from Deep Ellum, which is every two miles away – a 10-minute drive if you hit every red light. No Monkey King Noodle Co. for you, no Pecan Lodge, no nothing. The same goes for people who live in Red Bird or Cedar Crest, or in far west Dallas – places where City Hall says more than half the population doesn’t have easy access to transportation or a full-service grocery store.
Shawn Scott is the founder and CEO of Hack My Future.
As of Friday, Scott had never heard of Favor, which received $ 13 million in funding in 2015 alone. He discovered it the hard way: one of his business partners wanted to have lunch last week and was looking for someone to deliver it to the Expo Park. It was then that he met Favor, whose founder Ben Doherty said in a November 2014 press release that “Our expansion into Dallas shows that Favor continues to thrive in the highly competitive delivery market and is ready to pave the way to new cities.”
Just not the whole city.
Scott, a member of the Dallas Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” class of 2016, hopped on Twitter at 8:36 am Sunday morning to post the card, along with a query directed to Favor’s main Twitter account won’t deliver on a full side of a freeway in Dallas? “It wasn’t long before others jumped into the conversation and described it as” appalling “and” outrageous “.
Uber caught the same kind of hell a few years ago when it initially refused to move people to and from downtown until the city said it wasn’t going to work.
Scott pointed out that Favor delivers as far as Collin County – all the way to Highway 380 in McKinney. It also provides service to parts of the city besieged by high crime and high poverty – Northwest Highway and Harry Hines Boulevard, Vickery Meadow, Forest Lane and Audelia Road.
Just before noon on Sunday, Favor President and CEO Jag Bath finally responded with a short tweet of his own: “We’ll be there soon! We’ll keep expanding our zone in Dallas as we grow. Stay tuned!” So many exclamation marks, so little substance.
Whoever runs Favor’s Twitter account has asked Scott to send them a direct message so they can take the conversation offline. He refused. And so, shortly after 4 p.m. on Sunday, the company tweeted a statement that said:
“Hey Shawn – we are regularly expanding our zone and looking for areas where customers have already downloaded our app. And when we draw our delivery area maps, we usually cut them off on main roads to keep the maps simple. We hear that people from Dallas, and we’ll be expanding our zones there and across Texas soon! “
Favor is currently delivering in Dallas.
The answer wasn’t exactly about how they ended up on I-30 as the borderline, but it was better than the howling silence I received after emailing Favor’s PR guys on Sunday morning asking for an explanation.
Scott, who grew up in South Dallas across from Lincoln High School, kept pushing back. And on Sunday night, Favor offered to set up a phone chat with its growth director. That happened Monday morning – shortly after Scott met MenuRunners, the Dallas-based grocery delivery app that serves small towns across Texas, roughly south of downtown.
On Twitter, Scott said that Favor is “actively working” to fill its void in south Dallas and that there would be “more news” soon.
All of this happened in 24 hours. Just because a man couldn’t get anything to eat in a part of town who is tired of asking about the same old thing that people north of 30 see as their God-given right.
“Life in Dallas is different if you live south of that line in every way,” Scott said when we visited Monday morning. “Literally everything is missing, and as long as we let that line be the line, nothing will change.”