Jon Henry of Mississippi 2U shows off an order from Bonsai in Jackson.
JACKSON — Need food delivery, catering, grocery delivery and/or flower and gift delivery? Where can you find all these things? Need a kitchen sink too? This company also buys, sells and rents homes. The answer is Mississippi 2U, a privately held company and the newest delivery concept to enter the metro Jackson market.
“Our mission is to enhance one’s daily life while creating incremental revenue streams never before imagined for locally based businesses,” said Jared Hoffen, president and owner of Mississippi 2U.
Hoffen has been in the restaurant and the dot-com industries most of his life. At 24 he was overseeing 10 restaurants, including about 1,000 employees, 64 managers and $26 million in sales for the Lyon’s Corporation in northern California. Today, at 32, he works with Mississippi 2U executive vice president Alan French, director of operations Rickey Hill, manager Jon Henry and customer service manager John “Robin” Hamby to oversee the day-to-day operations of Mississippi 2U, which includes a staff of 45.
Hoffen came up with the idea behind Mississippi 2U while he was working in the restaurant industry. He used numerous restaurant delivery services (RDS), but he said the RDS’s were poorly managed then.
“It was a disastrous affair,” Hoffen said. He gave up the sales the RDS’s brought and dumped many RDS’s.
Later, Hoffen joined Food.com, based in San Francisco. The company had strategic alliances with RDS’s. “It was a shame to see how poorly managed they (RDS’s) were,” Hoffen said.
However, he also saw an opportunity and a market for RDS’s.
Hoffen met French when Hoffen was with I.W. Miller Group Inc. French, a native Jacksonian, was doing business in Laguna. Hoffen ended up building a computer network for French’s business.
“He’s been working on me for over a year now (on coming to Mississippi to develop the Mississippi 2U concept),” Hoffen explained.
It was not until after his job with I.W. Miller and then a subsequent job as CEO of World Markets Group in Century City, Calif., that Hoffen, with French, moved back to Mississippi to begin to put the Mississippi 2U plan into action.
Food delivery from Mississippi 2U takes about an hour. Customers call into a completely automated system and are greeted by a local radio personality. They then place their orders.
“We track every aspect of the delivery window,” Hoffen said. “Then we throw a little flair into it.”
Mississippi 2U drivers show up in chefs’ coats with fully embroidered logos.
“They don’t just dish and run,” Hoffen said. “They offer to come in, set it up, throw the trash away. That’s our policy.”
For catered events of up to 1,000, Mississippi 2U requires only a 24-hour notice. But for only 50 people, Hoffen said the event could be pulled off in an hour.
“We’re built for speed and service,” he said. “We’re geo-positioned and time sensitive and that’s how we execute our operations as well as we do.”
Mississippi 2U had its initial, soft launch Aug. 10, and during that time mailed just 10,000 of 30,000 books that contained a portion of the groceries, restaurant items, flowers, etc. offered today. For the Dec. 7 grand opening, the books contained even more restaurants to choose from, as well as other items. For the grand opening, Hoffen planned to mail 90,000 of 100,000 new books, but because things went so well the company instead only mailed about 45,000.
“We’ve exceeded our initial (sales) projection by about 400%,” Hoffen said.
Luda Baizat, owner of Peter the Great, which features European cuisine, said she enjoys working with Mississippi 2U.
“It’s absolutely great,” Baizat said. “It’s a good advertiser.”
Brian Jordan, a partner of the Jackson Buffalo Wild Wings franchise, said the main reason he and the other two partners of Buffalo Wild Wings decided to let Mississippi 2U deliver their food was their impression of Hoffen.
“We felt like he was going to do the job the right way,” Jordan said. “There are other delivery services but he seemed to have the experience and the attitude to really present the food. Takeout is a growing portion of the restaurant business and I believe delivery is going to be as well and it’s a market we weren’t taking advantage of.”
Jordan said he is happy to be able to provide delivery to people who before were not able to eat at his restaurant.
“We’ve been very pleased with them so far,” Jordan said. “They’ve done a great job. They’ve been very professional.”
Conner McAllister, a local attorney, has Mississippi 2U make deliveries from restaurants to his home a couple of times a week. Recently, he had them cater a family holiday get together.
“They were great to work with,” McAllister said.
McAllister was impressed with the fact that Mississippi 2U was able to put together a recipe for a fruit dip he had dictated over the phone.
“Whatever it took, they did it,” McAllister said. “They were on time — everything was perfect.”
McAllister said he would recommend Mississippi 2U to anyone who needed food catered for a party.
“They were very, very easy to work with,” he said. “They just wanted to make sure everything was perfect and it was.”
In the future, Mississippi 2U will offer more services, including hotel, club, travel, salon and spa, automobile, appraisal, insurance and limousine services. The next phase will be launched in March.
Hoffen said there are also plans for Mississippi 2U, which is online at www.mississippi2u.com, to become a regional company.
“We’re looking to go into 10 states,” Hoffen said.
Contact MBJ staff writer Elizabeth Kirkland at firstname.lastname@example.org.