- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 9, 2006

It’s Friday night and it’s pouring buckets outside. You’re inside, watching a movie and have a sudden craving for Ben & Jerry’s. Yeah, it’s full of calories but you figure it’s Friday and you deserve it. The only thing stopping most people is the quest for shoes, the sprint — in the rain — to the car, the drive to the grocery store and back again. Too bad pizza delivery places don’t deliver ice cream.

But a local company does. DC Snacks is like a couch potato’s dream … or a busy office worker’s or a tired traveler’s.

It sells convenience store items such as ice cream, pizza, frozen dinners, drink mixes and health aids, and bikes them to customers’ doors within 35 minutes.

“I’ve heard it described as instant messaging for food,” said Matthew Mandell, 24, who founded the company on George Washington University’s campus in early 2003.

Nearly three months ago, DC Snacks expanded its delivery zone to west downtown and has seen orders jump 10 percent. Its boundaries are now loosely defined as Rock Creek Parkway to the west, Q Street to the north, 13th Street to the east and Constitution Avenue.

“We’ve had requests from people who moved off campus,” said Mr. Mandell, president and chief executive officer. “We expanded based on demand to serve a larger population.”

Part convenience store and part bike messenger service, DC Snacks opens at 8 p.m. and is open until 1 a.m. Monday to Wednesday, 4 a.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 a.m. on Sunday. Its staff of 50 fills orders placed on its Web site, DCSnacks.com, and bikes them to customers.

“Our customer is someone who is working in a law firm downtown at night and wants some cigarettes or chips to get them through the night to students studying at the library to someone partying and looking for margarita salt,” he said. “Margarita salt can be hard to find.”

DC Snacks operates from a building “near the White House,” Mr. Mandell said, declining to be more specific.

“There is a certain amount of mystery about it that people click on the computer and [their] food shows up,” he said.

Prices are relatively consistent with grocery or convenience stores. DCSnacks charges a delivery fee of $1.50 for orders under $10.

The store sells nearly every product found in a convenience store and about 20 items are added every week, Mr. Mandell said.

“We’ve had everything from someone looking for condoms, Red Bull, NoDoz and frosting to someone looking for 15 pints of ice cream,” he said.

Mr. Mandell hopes to expand the company’s delivery zone even farther downtown in September.

Between 2003 and today, the company’s revenue has grown about 300 percent to 400 percent. Mr. Mandell expects the same type of growth this year alone.

“We’re in a period of hyper growth right now. In the future we’re potentially looking for investors to grow to our full potential,” he said.

Spa week is back

Sixteen local spas are participating in Spa Week, a week of discounted spa treatments with a portion of proceeds going to Cancer and Careers, a nonprofit organization for working women with cancer. This year’s event is April 17 to 23.

Spa Week began in New York in 2004. D.C. spas first participated in the twice-yearly event in October. To book a treatment, visit spaweek.org.

• Contact Jen Haberkorn at [email protected] or 202/636-4836.

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