People - March 2007

Beer delivers more takeout customers
By Chris Richter
With apologies to H.L. Mencken, no one ever went broke underestimating Americans’ desire to do things for themselves. Ryan Faircloth found that out when he opened Raleigh Take-Out in mid-2004. It wasn’t enough for customers that the company brought food from restaurants that don’t deliver. “When my driver got to the door, they’d try to give him another $20 to buy beer and bring it to them.”

Faircloth, 26, took their pleas to heart. “If people are willing to pay somebody $20 to get them a six-pack of beer, why not try to get a permit and sell it ourselves legally?” It took eight months to get permits from the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. And, before deliveries could begin in October, Faircloth had to invest in a refrigeration system.

The company sells domestic beers such as Budweiser, imports such as Newcastle and a variety of red and white wines. Prices start at $5.49 for a 12-pack of Busch Light, plus a delivery fee — $4.99 for trips inside Interstate 440, which circles central Raleigh, $6.99 to most other places in the city. Customers must pay for alcohol or cigarettes with a credit card while ordering. Drivers check customer IDs.

Faircloth wouldn’t disclose revenue but says the company became profitable early last year. The margin on alcohol is about 10%, and its availability has boosted food sales. Revenue grew 25% per month in the last quarter of 2006.

The company does about 50 deliveries on weekdays and about 75 a day during weekends. “It gives us access to customers we wouldn’t otherwise have,” says Leslie Lewis, owner of Tavola Rossa, an Italian restaurant that signed on in early 2006. Raleigh Take-Out, which has five employees and 12 drivers on contract, also gets a percentage of each sale. The amount varies by restaurant.

A Fayetteville native, Faircloth studied psychology at UNC Chapel Hill. He didn’t graduate, but he and a fraternity brother, Wesley Garrison, started a computer-networking business while in school. Faircloth sold his half to Garrison in 2003. Garrison bought half of Raleigh Take-Out in 2005, but Faircloth runs day-to-day operations.

The next steps? He plans to add DVD delivery by midyear and wants to partner with a supermarket chain to deliver groceries.