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Credit: Ava Cruz

David Cabello, a 25-year-old Philadelphia native, once made $1,100 in 30 hours delivering food on a bike through PostMates, UberEats, and Caviar. Now, Cabello runs his own food delivery business catering exclusively to Black-owned restaurants, and is delivering $20,000 worth of orders per week. 

In February 2019, David Cabello and his twin brother launched Black and Mobile, Philadelphia's first Black-owned food delivery service that partners solely with Black-owned restaurants. 

The service is currently partnered with over 50 Black-owned restaurants in the city. 

In recent weeks, Black and Mobile's sales have soared as the company finds itself at the intersection of two areas — delivery services and Black-owned businesses — gaining national attention amid the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide George Floyd protests for racial justice. 

In the first five months of business, Black and Mobile cumulatively sold $5,000 worth of food orders, but by January 2020, the company was selling that amount each week. 

Six months later, weekly profits have increased by roughly 400 percent.

All non-essential businesses in Philadelphia, excluding restaurants solely offering takeout and delivery, were ordered to close on March 15 in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the city. Black and Mobile, however, was categorized as an “essential” service while the pandemic caused many Philadelphia restaurants to turn to delivery services for survival. 

As the demand for delivery grew, Black and Mobile’s orders began to pile up.

Two months later, Black and Mobile is garnering more customers as protests continue across the country, which has galvanized many individuals and corporations to support the Black community. The local delivery service closed for three days, from June 6 to June 8, to allow its employees a break amid the recent influx of orders.

Cabello said his business is not just about making money, but rather about uplifting the Black community.

“We just want to be independent. We don’t want to be locked up. We don’t want to be shot down,” Cabello said. “We’ve been waiting for people to come save us and we keep getting killed, so it’s just time to do it for ourselves.”

Cabello said he eats at a Black-owned business at least six times per week to support his community, some of which are his clients.  

Supreme Oasis Bakery and Deli Owner Nuyen Emanuel and Manager Shon Emanuel — mother and daughter — partnered with Black and Mobile in June 2019, after using UberEats for their first two months in business. SOBAD is one of the most popular West Philadelphia businesses on the Black and Mobile app. 

“You could hear the passion of [Cabello’s] business in his voice,” Shon Emanuel said. “When someone is that passionate about what they do it’s kind of hard to say no.”

Shon Emanuel said that with a lower transaction fee and sign up charge, Black and Mobile offers much better rates than its competitors.

Earlier this month, Uber announced that UberEats will be waiving delivery fees for Black-owned restaurants for the remainder of the year in light of the protests against systemic racism. 

While Cabello said he is happy to see other food services promote Black businesses, he does not feel that the corporate support is genuine.

“What I don’t appreciate is the fact that they’re doing it just to get the Black dollar,” Cabello said. “Think about it. Before George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, we’ve been getting killed by the police, not just in 2020 and 2019 but for over 400 years. So, how come in the last 10 years you guys haven’t done anything like that for Black businesses?”

Despite Uber’s announcement, the SOBAD owners said they do not plan to switch back to UberEats, as they feel partnering with Black and Mobile was one of the best decisions they ever made — both business-wise and personally. 

The restaurant currently receives between 10 and 15 orders per day through Black and Mobile ⁠—adding up to at least 30 percent of its weekly orders ⁠— and SOBAD's owners said they have developed a strong relationship with Cabello, refusing to let him pay for his weekly meals. He often tries to sneak his money in the tip jar or even hide it in the menu, the Emanuels said.    

As Black and Mobile struggles to satisfy the high delivery demand with a mere 50 Black and Mobile drivers in Philadelphia, Cabello said he often helps with the orders himself.

Although employment is open to anyone, Cabello said he prefers to hire Black drivers.

“I’m targeting our people more because other ethnicities they kind of don’t have it as bad as Black people,” Cabello said. 

Black and Mobile driver Dasha Saintremy, who calls herself "Dasaint," is a Caribbean yoga instructor in Philadelphia who joined the service in late April when her income was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Saintremy described her work at Black and Mobile as "activist work," saying she feels it is a form of resistance by keeping Black culture alive through food.  

In March, Black and Mobile expanded its delivery business to operate in Detroit. In July, Cabello plans to open the service in Atlanta. He also plans to have 200 drivers in each of the three cities by next month in order to to ensure every order through the app gets delivered.

As Black and Mobile grows, Nuyen Emanuel said the business is “poised to take over the whole world.”

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