Anya Taggart and Daniel Ro once spent their entire lunch break standing in line, in bad weather, waiting to order from a food truck.
It’s something they realized that no one should have to do. “The last thing I want to do is go back to my computer and eat my lunch at my desk because I ran out of time,” Taggart said.
The two have created “Balabing,” a free app that allows users to see where their favorite food trucks are, view a menu that includes pictures of the items, order food, and then get alerted when it is ready to be picked up.
Ro began considering creating the app in 2014 when he was in the Army in South Korea. He moved to Utah and began attending Utah Valley University, where he met Taggart, and they started talking about the idea.
Taggart, who is Russian born food photographer, willing to drive to another city to eat from her favorite food truck, was onboard. “At the time, there was nothing similar on the market,” Taggart said.
Ro, who was running International Students events at UVU, brought in popular food truck for an event and ended up having to grab food from other places. “There was a huge line, so a friend and I had to wait for 30 minutes,” Ro said. He decided it would be easier if a customer could skip the line by remotely ordering their food and just be alerted when it was ready.
They launched the app in late February, a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down dine-in options for restaurants. But customers gathering in lines outside of food trucks (and lingering as their food is prepared) violated social distancing guidelines.
Taggart said Balabing offers a solution to that problem. “Our app saves people valuable time by letting them order on a mobile device, and it also eliminates social gatherings doing COVID-19,” Taggart said.
The app charges a small fee to vendors when an order is processed but does not charge customers fees. The new company is waiving fees from locally owned, independent restaurants and food trucks for the next three months due to COVID-19. Discounts for the rest of the year are available for businesses that sign up now.
Taggart said the app is appealing to small businesses and food trucks because it doesn’t impose a monthly fee, doesn’t require a contract, and charges businesses less than DoorDash does.
About a dozen food trucks have signed up so far. The app is also doing scheduling for food trucks at office buildings and apartment complexes.
Future updates to the app may include providing directions to the food trucks, the ability to customize orders, and the option to get a push notification when a user’s favorite truck is in their area. You can find more information on company’s website www.balabing.com