Nate Simmons, owner of Holly Ridge–based TakeOut Pros, has been perfecting restaurant delivery services in North Carolina for 10 years.
When Nate Simmons was in school at Appalachian State University, he worked as a delivery driver, as many college students do. Little did he know then that food delivery would become an exciting entrepreneurial adventure for him.
Simmons grew up in eastern North Carolina, graduating from East Duplin High School and visiting the Topsail area frequently with his family. After graduating from Appalachian, he moved to Greensboro, where, he soon realized, there was no delivery service available. It occurred to him that there might be an opportunity there to start a business, and he was soon bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.
While he was still considering the idea, another person in the area launched TakeOut Triad. Simmons decided he was “not going to sit on the dream” any longer while he watched someone else do it. He started scanning ads for businesses that he might be able to buy and after a short time found that TakeOut Triad was actually listed for sale. He made an offer and bought the business on the spot.
After a string of events, including a move back to the North Carolina coast, Simmons’ business morphed into TakeOut Pros. Today, the professional delivery service operates successfully, serving restaurants and their customers in Greenville, Surf City, Holly Ridge, Topsail Beach, North Topsail Beach, Sneads Ferry and Hampstead.
TakeOut Pros touts delivering food that’s not only fresh, but rather “freaky fresh.”
“TakeOut Pros is the only truly local option for takeout delivery,” Simmons says.
Given the restrictions imposed by state and local officials in response to the coronavirus, food delivery has become even more important to both the restaurants and their customers.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic when restaurants were unable to serve customers in their dining rooms and had to modify their menus to accommodate takeout and pickup options, TakeOut Pros delivered the takeout orders so customers could continue to support their local restaurants while staying in their homes. All of Simmons’ dispatchers work from home, so he was able to accommodate the new work environment without any additional adjustments.
Simmons and his team have come a long way — literally and figuratively — to reach the success they enjoy today. The business that began as TakeOut Triad almost 10 years ago merged with TakeOut Central. Simmons says it was a partnership until they bought him out. He then started TakeOut Pros and looked toward the university setting in Greenville as the perfect place to launch his new venture. He had friends and family who lived there and with childhood ties in the area, “always had a foot in Greenville.”
After spending some time in Greenville, Simmons and his wife were lured by the thought of living closer to the beach while still running their delivery service. “We decided we could operate in Holly Ridge and start the next chapter of the business,” Simmons says.
TakeOut Pros has been built up from the driver’s perspective, as that is where Simmons started. He admits he made a lot of expensive mistakes but has learned along the way how to run a business and manage employees. One of his biggest challenges today is hiring quality drivers. He is picky about drivers, which is a very important distinction in the professionalism of the business.
“That’s one way to separate from competitors,” he says. “I want good, happy drivers because that makes good, happy customers.”
TakeOut Pros is not technically a family business, even though several family members do get involved quite often and Simmons says he likes to think of it as a family venture. His sister has dispatched for him, and his wife helps out “tremendously, everything from delivering food to dispatching orders.”
The service’s first restaurant customer in this area was Deli Works in Holly Ridge. The restaurant continues to be a loyal customer and has been joined by many other restaurants in Surf City, Holly Ridge, Hampstead and points in between. Simmons’ vision is to expand TakeOut Pros to serve restaurants and their customers in Jacksonville and Wilmington.
“We have proven we can go toe to toe with national brands,” Simmons says, even when some of those national brands moved into the Greenville market.
Simmons says he is always looking for more restaurants to partner with and more customers to place orders from those restaurants. He adds that it has “always been a dream to live here and be a business owner, to be part of the community” and he is excited about the future for his family and his business.