Condo's friendly food delivery guy

Yishun foodie takes neighbours' orders before he goes to eateries

He may not work for Deliveroo or Foodpanda, but Singaporean James Chen delivers food to people in his neighbourhood all the same.

And he is doing this with no delivery fee.

The 37-year-old senior marketing manager has been offering a "delivery service" to his neighbours at his executive condominium, Signature at Yishun, and residents of nearby executive condo The Criterion.

Mr Chen, who was featured in Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News, told The Straits Times that he offers "food delivery" service about four times a week. Most of the time, he receives more than 20 orders.

His "customers" are all part of a WhatsApp group. Mr Chen, a self-professed foodie who is married with no children yet, would inform the chat group that he would be visiting a certain eatery or trying out a new stall. He then takes "orders" from the rest, who would collect the food from him when he is back.

Mr Chen started the group in July, with about 10 people, to discuss food and share related articles.

But he soon realised that many in the group did not have the time to visit the eateries being discussed. That was when he decided to deliver food to them.

Through word of mouth, the WhatsApp group has grown to more than 90 people.

Senior marketing manager James Chen sometimes orders up to 30 packets of food for people in his WhatsApp chat group.
Senior marketing manager James Chen sometimes orders up to 30 packets of food for people in his WhatsApp chat group.PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

SPIRIT OF NEIGHBOURLINESS

Since I am already in the queue, I might as well offer to buy food for my neighbours to save them the time in queuing up.

MR JAMES CHEN, who has been offering a "delivery service" to his neighbours at his executive condominium, Signature at Yishun, and residents of nearby executive condo The Criterion.

Despite the trouble he goes through, he does not charge any fee. He gets paid only for the food.

He said he is doing this in the spirit of neighbourliness, and as part of the "sharing economy".

Mr Chen, who regularly travels around Singapore to find good food for his family, told ST: "Since I am already in the queue, I might as well offer to buy food for my neighbours to save them the time in queuing up."

The eateries are not all near his house - he once drove all the way to Westgate mall in Jurong East to buy Taiwanese steamed cakes.

Mr Chen also hopes to share good food with neighbours who may not have the time to venture far, such as those who are pregnant or have young children to look after.

"Food is as common a language to Singaporeans as Singlish is," he said.

Once, he received orders for around 30 packets of food.

Although he acknowledged that it took quite a lot of effort to do this, he is happy to continue offering the service. "After all, these people are my neighbours," he said.

Mr Chen said he would like to work for a food delivery company in the future, but he emphasised this was not the reason he started his service.

His neighbour, Ms Cindy Chan, 26, said: "There are a lot of mothers here who are stuck at home... Our home is not near the shopping centre, and the foodcourt nearby would not normally have many options."

The business manager has been "ordering" food at least once a week through Mr Chen since last month.

She added: "When he delivers the food, it's always fresh and warm."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2018, with the headline 'Condo's friendly food delivery guy'. Print Edition | Subscribe