Good news for Whistler foodies, bad news for Whistler waistlines: the resort’s only locally-based food delivery platform is officially back up and running, this time with new owners and beefed-up technology.
Avi Lugassy and Mike Moisson purchased the delivery service from founder and owner Jean-Francois Giasson in the fall, and after several months spent improving the ordering software and hiring drivers, the first delivery was made Tuesday, May 16.
“My business partner Mike and I love to take on things we believe we can bring value to, and we can bring technology to,” said Lugassy, who is also a programmer. “One of the amazing things about Whistler Dine In is the former owners built this phenomenal business—but with little to no tech. We loved that we could bring it back and improve the technology and make it more efficient for customers, restaurants, and drivers.”
Launched in 2010, Whistler Dine In was for years the only online food delivery service in town. Before Lugassy and Moisson took over, orders would come in via email on the Whistler Dine In website. Then, the driver would call the restaurant to place the customer’s order. Now the platform has moved to a app-based system that sends orders as they come in directly to the restaurant and tracks the driver’s location for both restaurant partners and diners.
So far, the platform has 13 participating restaurants, grocery and liquor stores onboard, with plans to recruit more and add to the diversity of offerings available.
“We would welcome everybody onboard with open arms,” Lugassy said. “I think it’s really important to get a huge variety of partners onboard because that’s what customers want.”
Like many local businesses, Whistler Dine In struggled in recent years to find staff, with the previous owners saying they worked 270 days straight without time off during the pandemic. Given that, Lugassy had concerns he wouldn’t be able to fill out his roster of drivers, but at present, he said he has 22 employees. On peak weekend nights, Lugassy said there would be up to a dozen drivers on the road.
Lugassy and Moisson have plenty of food experience under their belts, as owners of Victoria eatery and wholesaler, Soupa Café. The partners also run a cleaning business, and a bike company.
Major food delivery platforms such as Uber Eats, Skip the Dishes and DoorDash (the only other platform available in Whistler) have eaten up huge swaths of market share in recent years from more traditional food delivery services, but, with its improved tech and personal touch that Whistler Dine In has always been known for, Lugassy is confident they will not only compete with the big dogs, but thrive.
“One of the frustrations for people that use the larger platforms is that there is generally no local contact,” he said. “Every partner that has onboarded with us, I’ve sat with them, had a conversation, showed them the platform myself and asked for their feedback.”
That includes last night, when Lugassy joined a delivery driver on his last run of the night.
“I hopped in with Jesse, our driver, and the [customer] was just over the moon to have that personal contact,” he said. “We came in here because we and we want to do right by everyone.”
Looking ahead to the future, Lugassy said he’d love to see Whistler Dine In’s delivery zones expand beyond Whistler’s boundaries, with customers requesting service to WedgeWoods and as far out as Pemberton.
“Anywhere there isn’t delivery, we’d love to get out there. I don’t know how we’d tackle that problem, but we’d love to try,” he added.
Learn more, and place your order, at whistlerdinein.com. Delivery hours are from 5 to 9 p.m. nightly, with plans to expand hours in the future. Lugassy said there are fewer participating restaurants this week as the service gets off the ground again, but customers can expect more options as early as next week.