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Street-food vendors work with apps to offer delivery services

Update: April, 13/2020 - 17:56
Because of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, many street food vendors in HCM City are offering food for takeaway and working with delivery apps to serve their customers. — VNS Photo Anh Thư

HCM CITY — Because of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, many street food vendors in HCM City are offering food for takeaway and working with delivery apps to serve their customers.

Ms Mai owns a stall offering hủ tiếu (noodle soup served with pork, southern style) on Nguyễn Hữu Cầu Street near the back gate of Tân Định Market in District 3.

Her shop opens at 5pm daily but only does takeaway or delivery.

Her stall usually has three small tables and one umbrella, but they are not being used to follow the Government’s social distancing regulations.  

She offers a bowl of hủ tiếu at VNĐ40,000 (US$1.7). Her customers are students and labourers.

“I and other food vendors working on the streets around Tân Định Market still remain open but are just offering take-away and delivery. We have to work to cut our losses,” said Mai, a resident of Quảng Ngãi Province.

“I learned that I can continue my business these days if my shop has no more two persons,” added Mai, who has parents and three children to support in her hometown.

Mai and her husband rent a small room in an alley in Thủ Đức District. They both prepare for a working day in the early morning. They deliver food and cooking materials from their rented home to Tân Định Market before 5pm every day.

Mai’s stall used to attract an average of 120 customers daily. However, the number has averaged only 40 per cent of that figure since the outbreak of COVID-19.

“However, we will work to survive,” she said.

Mai’s husband also works as a xe ôm driver to deliver hủ tiếu for customers. They offer free delivery for bills of VNĐ200,000 ($9) or more, and charge VNĐ20,000 per order.

“We work with food delivery apps such as Now, Grab and Baemin to increase our sales,” said Mai, who uses a secondhand Samsung mobile phone.

Many food-street stalls around the city began working with food delivery apps in February.

Nguyễn Thị Tư, owner of a street shop offering fruit juice and smoothies on Phạm Văn Hai Street in Tân Bình District, said: "My sales fell 70 per cent in February.”

Tư’s shop opens at 6pm and has five tables and two umbrellas. She and her husband and three children used to serve 200 customers in one night.

“I used to refuse to work with delivery apps because I wanted to give priority to customers at tables,” said Tư, 63.

“I did not use a smartphone before the spread of virus. But I’m now professional.”

Tư can keep her shop running thanks to the apps.

She and her oldest son work from 6pm to 9pm. Her husband and two daughters work until 11pm. They receive 60 orders via the apps per day. They also serve more than 30 customers for takeaway.  

“We earn enough to survive,” said Tư.

Well-known street-food vendors, offering hủ tiếu, phở (Vietnamese noddle served with beef or chicken), cháo (rice soup served hot with fish, pork or chicken) and gỏi cuốn (spring roll) in districts 3, 4 and 7 have changed doing business by working with delivery apps.

“I often go out to buy and take away dinner served by street food vendors. I think they are doing well to face challenges when we live with social distancing,” said Hoàng Văn Tài, a security officer at the luxury apartment building The Prince Residence-Novaland in Phú Nhuận District. — VNS

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