Cybermeal pushes

by Jake Kapsner

University Web heads with an empty stomach needn’t leave the comfort of their computers to order dinner.
Cybermeals, a San Francisco-based online take-out and delivery service, began marketing last month to 10 U.S. colleges, including the University.
The market is ripe for the picking considering the college student’s penchant for computer use and tendency to dine out.
The number of college students who purchased products online rose from 10 to 18 percent since last year; a number that’s growing each semester, said Tom Borgerding, vice president of marketing and sales for Future Pages College Network in St. Paul.
Future Pages is leading the marketing campaign using college print and online newspapers to encourage people — in Cybermeals’ words — to “Point. Click. Eat.”
But given the response at the Big Ten Restaurant and Bar in Stadium Village, the concept hasn’t been gobbled up just yet.
Big Ten is one of 32 Twin Cities restaurants that pops up at when people surf for a quick bite in the University area.
Despite an average of 25 deliveries a night, Big Ten has had only one Cybermeals order since its free trial service started a month ago.
People familiar with Cybermeals feel new restaurants would gain more from the service than those with more established reputations.
Nancy Crudo, who works at Buon Giorno Italian Market in St. Paul, said her restaurant has had two online orders in the past month.
A Web presence might bring in student business, she said. But because Buon Giorno has a $35 minimum for delivery, students would need to pool together before making an order.
Borgerding said he hopes the hunger for online dining will grow as advertising picks up in the next two months as promotional flyers, posters and events come to campus.
After an organizational change in the company, Cybermeals representatives look to build a bigger customer base in the University area, he said.
Ordering online brings the convenience of seeing an entire menu, and choosing from all of a restaurant’s options, Borgerding said, “as opposed to talking on the phone and not knowing what you’re getting.”