by Raymond Badach
This month, we started a new enterprise at Raymond’s—DELIVERY. If you knew us in the early days, when I was making food out of my apartment on Walden Place, my girlfriend Jasmine was our delivery “person.” She’d pack everything in baskets and bring it to local businesses who had heard about the little secret I was keeping from my landlord. He began to get suspicious when my garbage cans became impossible to pull to the curb.
In 1989, when I first opened Raymond’s at 32A Church Street, I wasn’t too concerned about delivery. I was way too busy trying to get Raymond’s going–making everything from scratch and handling a small staff that often chose not to show up.
Even though I avoided the idea of delivery early in my restaurant career, let’s say I had a lot of practice. In 1974, I was 12 and living in the Jersey City Heights. Our paperboy, Melchor (Mel-core), asked me if I would take over his Jersey Journal route for two weeks while he was on vacation. Without the consent of my parents, who were both working, I began training with Mel. I was a quick study and I liked the job. When Mel got back, it was hard to give up the route but, luckily for me, Mel seemed to be losing interest and was getting ready to start high school. Not only did I inherit Mel’s route, but after a few months, I took on another route in the neighborhood. This meant I would be delivering about 175 newspapers over a two-mile radius. Those papers were heavy. I graduated from using a bright red, canvas satchel to a small, folding shopping cart. I delivered six days a week and earned pretty decent tips.
My next stint as a delivery boy involved food. The summer I turned 14, I had a lot more freedom and scored a delivery job working at Solowey’s Luncheonette on Journal Square. I would get to work by 7:30 AM to get the breakfast deliveries going. Everything on the menu was available for takeout and it was all delivered on foot. I walk-ran all over Journal Square trying to keep orders intact, hot, and on time.
Because both jobs were in an urban environment that had seen better days, I got to see a lot for someone my age. I learned how to navigate in an adult world and how to use the system. If I was delivering Solowey’s food to the bank, sometimes the tellers would ask me to pick up a chili dog and orangeade at Boulevard Drinks. I’d stop at Greenspan’s for a “turkey and Russian” and a Dr. Brown’s for the lawyers up the street. Ironically, I even managed to feed the homeless couple who hung out by the loading docks at the back of the Jersey Journal building.
I learned a lot about the restaurant business back in those days and how important it was for those little places to have a delivery system. When I got my first cooking job at Evergreen in Upper Montclair, I realized that most of the “uptown” restaurants did not deliver and people would come to the back of the restaurant for takeout. When I stopped cooking out of my apartment—which was smart, because it was probably illegal—Raymond’s delivery option was put on the back burner (ha!).
I’ve never been a fan of convenience. I will go out of my way to find the best-tasting loaf of bread or wait on line for two hours at Supreme to get my son a T-shirt. But that’s not fair to our customers, especially those who’ve been following us for the past 30 years. So finally, we’re introducing Raymond’s delivery through Doordash. It’s simple. All you have to do is place your Raymond’s order through their website (doordash.com) or the app on one of your space-age devices. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a delivery boy. Be sure to tip him well.