Visit Jackson Assisting Restaurants With Delivery, Marketing Initiatives

Visit Jackson has teamed up with a local food delivery upstart to assist restaurants in the City With Soul with lower commission rates.

The destination marketing organization, along with Downtown Jackson Partners, has teamed up with Mississippi Delivery, a service started earlier this year, aiming to hire over 100 drivers to serve the market.

Already, The Pig & Pint, Green Ghost Tacos Fondren and Edo Japanese Restaurant are available on the platform and several others have signed on to Mississippi Delivery through the program.

Delivery fees are $2.99 per order.

Downtown Jackson Partners’ John Gomez with Visit Jackson’s Rickey Thigpen

“We’re beginning to see increased momentum in Mississippi’s capital city,” said Visit Jackson President and CEO Rickey Thigpen. “Much of that success is attributed to the innovation, strategic planning and the gut of our restaurant community. Take-out, pick-up, delivery and online ordering services all are contributing factors to that success.”

Typically, restaurants pay a commission to delivery providers, sometimes north of 30%, making it cost-prohibitive for owners to consider the option.

With the Visit Jackson and Downtown Partners partnership, that commission is considerably lower. It has been negotiated to remain at the same rate for the restaurant for their contract’s life.

Mississippi Delivery Operations Manager Jeff Blanco attributed the ability to offer lower the lower fee structure to restaurants to the diligence of Visit Jackson.

“(Visit Jackson) went out and negotiated a lower fee with us so that we can pass that on to the consumer,” Blanco said. “We’re looking forward to helping restaurants secure more of their profits, helping these consumers keep more of their hard-earned dollars and help drivers make more money,”

When the program began, Visit Jackson committed to a certain number of restaurants they could assist. When they heard that Downtown Jackson Partners hoped to provide a similar assistance program, the ability grew exponentially.

Blanco and Thigpen

“With so many businesses struggling through these difficult times, we wanted to assist our downtown restaurants, too,” said John Gomez, Executive Director of Downtown Jackson Partners. “We feel working with Visit Jackson and Mississippi Delivery will allow our neighborhood restaurants to serve more people.”  

Visit Jackson is offering additional programs to restaurants to help cope with COVID-19.

Three additional programs aim to help Jackson restaurants in marketing their businesses in challenging times.

The first, a photography initiative, utilizes support from photographers Tom and Kasi Beck to help Visit Jackson build the organization’s library of hi-res images while providing those same images back to those restaurants at no cost to use in their marketing.

Lobster tail at Johnny T’s, one of the photos taken by Tom and Kasi Beck

The second, a website assistance project, is in partnership with the Mississippi Coding Institute. Visit Jackson has identified several restaurants based on immediate needs to provide websites, including online ordering capabilities, to 25 restaurants during the initial phase.

Third, Visit Jackson has assisted with applications for the Mississippi CARES Act “Back to Business” program. Representatives of the organization have answered questions, assisted with applications and helped restaurants to file those applications.

Looking Forward

In 2019, Visit Jackson said that tourism revenues had been the highest in the organization’s 30+ year history. From March 23 until now, though, the city has lost over $21M in economic impact due to COVID-19.

But the tide is turning, Thigpen said over $5M in business had come back to the city with another $2.5M projected in the next few weeks.

“The collective ambition of Jackson is a major factor,” he said, noting better cooperation among agencies, government entities, restaurants, hotels and attractions than ever before.

“Our culinary and tourism products are jewels in the City With Soul.”