Pasco beer delivery service gets rolling

Jon Fox, 32, part owner of Beer Runners, delivers a keg to a customer in the Oakstead development in Land O’Lakes on Thursday. The business, with headquarters at 30036 Wesley Chapel Blvd. in Wesley Chapel, keeps partiers off the road by delivering beer and cigarettes.

KAINAZ AMARIA | Times

Jon Fox, 32, part owner of Beer Runners, delivers a keg to a customer in the Oakstead development in Land O’Lakes on Thursday. The business, with headquarters at 30036 Wesley Chapel Blvd. in Wesley Chapel, keeps partiers off the road by delivering beer and cigarettes.

WESLEY CHAPEL — Ideas hatched after an evening of drinking usually lose their gleam come morning.

But that wasn't the case for Beer Runners, a beer delivery service started by three married couples who got the inspiration Halloween night when no one was sober enough to pick up more brew.

"We ran out of beer and just started talking about it," said Jon Fox, 32, a cable splicer for Verizon. "We talked about it all night long."

Since Halloween, it has been a whirlwind of securing business loans and professional licenses, painting walls and searching for coolers on eBay.

On New Year's Eve, the Matriscianos, Foxes and Palacioses opened their business on a desolate strip of State Road 54.

Business has trickled in, they've had about a dozen or so orders so far and plenty of curious passers-by and job seekers.

"We've had more applications than we've had delivery orders," said Rhoda Matrisciano, 40, a teacher at Montessori Prep Academy in Temple Terrace.

The Beer Runners' concept is simple. You give them a call, they take your order — $20 minimum — and if you're within 3 miles of the store, the delivery charge is $5, or 65 cents per mile after that.

Their prices are typical — $4.25 for a pack of Marlboros, $5.91 for a six-pack of Miller Lite.

"You think what you would have to pay for court fees if you got a DUI, what's $10 to have beer delivered?" said Jon Fox.

The financial costs aren't the only consequence of driving while intoxicated the couples want to prevent.

Beer Runners co-owner Wilson Palacios, 40, an associate professor of criminology at a local college, lost a brother 11 years ago to a drunken driver.

"If we can keep one intoxicated person off the street, it's a small step in the right direction," he said.

"No one should jeopardize their lives or the lives of someone else to get something so accessible," said his wife, Polly, 33, a research project data manager.

The beer delivery concept is legit as far as the state is concerned, though the Department of Business & Professional Regulation did not have figures on how many similar services operate in Florida.

Eventually, the couples hope to expand Beer Runners to other markets.

Until they are profitable enough to hire employees, the six take turns manning the phones and dropping off orders.

No one is getting paid at this point, but whoever drives gets to pocket any tips collected on the delivery.

They say it's been a smooth transition from friends to business partners, despite one minor disagreement over how to paint the front counter.

"If anything, we've gotten closer as friends because we spend a lot more time together now," said Polly Palacios.

And with all the hectic hours spent at the store, they say they're also drinking less than they used to.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

Fast facts

Never run out

Beer Runners will bring cigarettes and beer to you. Their hours are Monday-Thursday from 4 to 11 p.m., Friday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (813) 991-7900.

Pasco beer delivery service gets rolling 01/11/09 [Last modified: Sunday, January 11, 2009 8:22pm]

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