Munchies Miracleworker

Andrew McQuiddy, Features Editor

Night owls rejoice: there’s now a service delivering groceries and sundries to your door so you can hoot till dawn, free from the drudgery of driving and shopping. Deanna Sonni started Foodie Call in November 2012 to cater to thousands of Sonoma County late-nighters like herself.

“It’s a service I would like and there’s nothing like that here,” Sonni said. “There’s lots of people here my age, twenty-somethings. People who are up late studying or working or partying and there’s no other service that delivers at those hours. So, I wanted to provide it for them.”

Foodie Call makes late night grocery deliveries to the Santa Rosa and Sonoma State University areas. “We have a growing selection of munchies, meals, and late night supplies that we promptly deliver to your door,” according to the website. “Whether you’re throwing a party and forgot some essentials, cramming for finals and need an energy boost, or curled up on the couch wishing for ice cream, Foodie Call is here to swiftly deliver your late night cravings!”

Sonni chose Santa Rosa as a base and SSU as a target market for the large student populations, what she dubs the “Foodie Zones.” These maps at FoodieCall.in show circular estimates of areas supporting  delivery within 30 minutes or less.

“But we can still deliver outside the zones in a reasonable time,” Sonni said. “You can use the instant chat feature on the website to ask if we can reach you in the time you want.”

Items available for shoppers range from cough medicine and condoms to Fritos and frappuccino. Current categories on the menu include: dessert, beverages, candy, condiments, tobacco, pharmacy, breakfast & cereal, pastries, dips and spreads, frozen goods and supplies.

Point-and-click online ordering offers easy registration (or log on for previous customers) and wide payment options, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, JCB, Discover and Diners Club. Return clients can review current and past orders saved to their account, and all customers benefit from special deals and promotions. Minimum orders must reach $10 or more, before adding the $6 standard delivery fee.

Delivery hours run from Thursday through Sunday, 9 p.m. until 3 a.m., but the site accepts business 24 hours a day. Foodie Call processes off-hours orders first thing the following evening. It also accepts advance requests for a specific day and time.

“If someone wants to pre-plan an order for next Saturday at midnight they can easily contact me via live-chat and I’ll note any special instructions,” Sonni said.

Likewise, if someone wants something not on the website menu, Sonni makes every effort to meet client wishes.

“I’m definitely open to suggestions of certain brands or categories,” she said. “I can also fulfill most night-of requests and I can usually find what the customer is looking for. I’ll swing by a store and complete the order.”

So far, bumps in the road to Foodie Call’s success are few and far between.

“I do worry about getting caught behind traffic or the cops,” Sonni said of potential problems. “The main thing so far has been occasionally losing time finding apartment numbers. But I can call the customer and get directions.”

Arriving at her destination, Sonni may get welcomed by more than just her paying client, as she makes her delivery. “I sometimes get a little crowd of people interested in the business,” she said. Presenting the goods in a vibrant purple reusable tote bag emblazoned in bright yellow with Foodie Call’s crescent moon logo may garner as much of the attention as Sonni’s sunny personality.

Currently, Foodie Call is mostly a one-woman show, with website wrangling by Luke Heuer. She has additional support ready if things get hectic or difficult.

“I have a back-up,” Sonni said, “a roommate who said he’d help if I need it.”

She doesn’t seem to need much help with her enthusiasm, however.

“I hope I can keep this growing for a long time, because I have a lot of new fun and interesting features in mind,” she said.

Growth plans in the geographic direction are meeting momentary resistance.

“I definitely want to service more areas beyond Santa Rosa, like Windsor,” Sonni said. “But right now the delivery time frame is an issue. The more we venture out from this area, it may take a few minutes more than 30 minutes.”

Technological breakthroughs, however, are a closer goal.

“Getting the website more mobile-ready is our first priority,” Sonni said. “Creating an order-tracking system for the website is a month or two down the road.”

Meanwhile, Sonni thrives on feedback.

“I’ll continue to tailor the inventory according to customer wants as fast as I can,” she said. “I think it’s a really cool concept for a business to be open and receptive to their customers. Most big businesses don’t do that. I try to listen to customers and make it a cool, fun experience.”