Senior Zak McAdoo put on yet another layer – a fuzzy pink sweatshirt – before braving the cold. He slung a bulky bag over his shoulder before taking off on his bike. McAdoo then sped off into the February night as he usually does, to satisfy munchies for DC Snacks, the late-night online snack business.
McAdoo and the other members of the DC Snacks crew deliver orders all across D.C. – from Georgetown University through Dupont, Chinatown and Foggy Bottom, all the way to Georgetown Law – carrying bags that average 30 pounds, and balancing it all gracefully on a bike.
Most of the delivery bikers are students at GW and knew each other before working at DC Snacks.
“Everyone I know who works here pretty much got the job through their friends,” McAdoo said. “It’s always nice, because my group of friends here is pretty much my group of friends outside of work.”
Senior Steve Spencer compared the DC Snacks crew to a social setting, saying, “We’re basically a frat of people who love to ride bikes.”
The delivery bikers wait for orders to accumulate at the DC Snacks headquarters – a location that founder Matthew Mandell, a GW graduate, prefers to keep a secret. Mandell says not knowing where the snacks reside, adds a certain mystique to the service that can satisfy your nighttime cravings with ease. He also wrote in an e-mail that because they don’t cater to walk-in customers, no one needs to know where they do their business.
The snack pantry is, however, alive and well, and filled with stacks of Camels, piles of Doritos and mountains of Vitamin Water. Boxes of M&M’s and condoms help to fill the shelves of the tiny storeroom.
The delivery bikers are usually ready to jump, but on Thursday nights such as this one, the delivery flow remains unpredictable.
Senior Jake Stoehr, another biker said, “Sometimes it’s in and out, or we’re slammed with a lot of orders and there are no other riders here when you come back from a run, so you’ve just got to go out again immediately afterwards.”
Sophomore Nick Savio agreed that Thursday nights are slow, but Sunday nights are “crazy.”
Despite this Thursday night slump in late February, enough orders eventually came in to warrant a delivery. McAdoo hopped on a bike and set off on the nearly empty streets for Pita Pit, the first stop on this delivery run, to pick up pitas to deliver.
“It’s nice riding around at night with no cars on the road,” McAdoo said.
Though the Pita Pit pickup went quickly and smoothly, the same could not be said for the Munson drop-off. After nearly falling off his bike and sending it crashing to the ground as he stopped outside of Munson, McAdoo said, “our bikes are essentially indestructible. We ride the simplest of bikes. They’re track or fixed-gear bikes that are easy to maintain and take care of.”
Recovering from his near-crash, McAdoo waited outside of Munson for several minutes without any sign of a hungry customer.
“No matter how far ahead you call, you still have to wait for them to come down. It’s a guessing game,” McAdoo said.
As he headed to the next and final stop on the run, Thurston Hall, McAdoo ran into a road obstruction that was being blocked off by numerous fire trucks and other emergency vehicles.
“It’s cool, because when the road’s blocked off like this, we can go through when cars can’t,” he said.
Winding through the mass of vehicles on his bikes on the way to Thurston, McAdoo stopped to say hi to numerous students along the way. He said, “You always see people you know.”