By: Marisa Sloan
SWIPEBY, a new app available on Android and iOS, is making it easier than ever to support local businesses in Winston-Salem. Through the app, users can skip the unpredictability that comes with food delivery and instead enjoy curbside service at their favorite local restaurants.
Delivery fees. Long wait times. Cold food. SWIPEBY kicks all that to the curb by turning any restaurant into a virtual drive-thru. Whether it’s a craving for pizza or tacos, customers can easily place an order via the app before hopping in the car. And don’t worry about changing out of pajamas — the restaurant can track your location so that staff will be waiting curbside with hot and ready food: no unnecessary waiting, and no need to get out of the car.
SWIPEBY launched earlier this year with approximately 40 restaurants in Winston-Salem. More restaurants join every week, and founder Carl Turner has his eyes set on eventually expanding nationwide.
Turner, a graduate of Wake Forest University, founded SWIPEBY as the evolution of a previous app of his design called Neighborz. Marketed as “Tinder for food,” Neighborz aimed to simplify the task of choosing a place to eat by allowing users to explore the meals around them visually. SWIPEBY embraces the user accessibility of the Neighborz app while also providing the convenience of a drive-thru. Turner said that in theory, the experience is faster even than McDonald’s due to the absence of waiting in line to pay at the window.
“The best thing is it doesn’t cost you anything as a user,” Turner said. “There are no fees, the app is for free, and the food prices are the same as if you were dining in the restaurant.”
Turner said that SWIPEBY is also significantly cheaper for the restaurants than any other food delivery app out there. While the app does charge a percentage cut to the restaurant, it is generally half the cost that a restaurant pays for services such as Uber Eats, Grubhub, or DoorDash. Convenience for both the restaurant and customer remains at the forefront of Turner’s mission.
“Your Outback, your Applebee’s, your Carrabba’s, your Chick-fil-A, your McDonald’s, they have their own technology teams, right?” Turner said. “They invest millions, and they have curbside service, all of them. But what we really see is that these local restaurants cannot afford it.”
Turner said that while the drive-thru is a proven business model for large retailers and chains, it’s unsustainable for the smaller, local restaurants because they lack the technology and infrastructure required. Through the SWIPEBY app, he hopes to correct this imbalance while also giving restaurants the power to continue managing the customer’s experience.
SWIPEBY comes out of Winston-Starts, an incubator in Winston-Salem. With the help of local angel investors, Turner’s startup company grew rapidly, even winning the North Carolina Idea Seed Grant — one of the most competitive startup grants in the Southeast.
“We are a local Winston-Salem company, we are getting our support from local, and I think our app is something that can support local,” Turner said.
Participating SWIPEBY restaurants include: Asian BBQ & Grill, Bib’s, Small Batch, Charm Thai, Chiang Mai Thai, Cloverdale Kitchen, Coppola’s, Don Tequila, Downtown Deli, Downtown Thai, Firehouse Subs, Grille Ville, Golden Corral, Honky Tonk Smokehouse, ISE Japanese, J and J Food Mart, Jeffrey Adams, Jimmy the Greek, King’s Crab Shack, Kotta Japanese, La Perlita, Lighthouse, Local 27101, Los Toritos, Mac & Nellis, Mayberry, Mi Pueblo, Midtown Cafe, Murphy’s, Mystic Ginger, O’Brien’s Deli, OSO Eats, Penny Path Café & Crêpe Shop, Pho & Sushi, Quiet Pint, Senior Bravo, Southern Family Restaurant, Taqueria Guadalajara, Thai Harmony, The Loop, The Olive Tree, Time Square Pizza, Tre Nonne, Village Juice Company, Washington Perk, and Willow’s.