The Richmond Register

January 28, 2013

The Starving Monkey wants to ‘satisfy your crave’

Family starts restaurant home-delivery service to honor late daughter, give back to community

By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer

RICHMOND —

After the tragic loss of his 8-year-old daughter in May, Jeff Davis, of Richmond, was done dealing with negative people in his life.

He wasn’t sure if it was the angry truckers he encountered every day at his job at a travel center, he said, “but something clicked.”

After 22 years of managing service stations, he prayed about it and resigned.

His new career path “has taken on a life of its own,” said Davis, whose unique Richmond business is “all about positivity and good old-fashioned customer service.”

The Starving Monkey is a restaurant home delivery service. Partnered with local businesses, Davis and his delivery drivers will bring hot, fresh food to your door for a flat fee of $5.99 (per restaurant). There is a $10 minimum per order.

The fledgling business is in its first stages of “working out the kinks,” Davis said. He asks for the community’s patience as they conduct “soft runs” until The Starving Monkey builds a full fleet of delivery drivers.

Davis is currently partnered with seven restaurants, each chosen to provide variety, but also to promote “the little guy,” he said. For example, instead of seeking a big chain Mexican restaurant, he partnered with Nuevo Vallarta, which is locally owned and operated.

“I wanted to surround myself with some amazing restaurant owners,” Davis said. “With the way Richmond is growing, there is such a need for this in the community. This is what people want.”

Several years ago, while on a business trip to Chicago, Davis and a friend were staying in a hotel and didn’t want to go out to eat and risk getting lost in the big city.

In the hotel directory, they found a service that would deliver anything you wanted.

“I said, ‘wow, we need this in Richmond,’” Davis recalled. “But the idea just stuck in my head and it never went anywhere because I already had a career.”

But on April 27, his life changed forever when his daughter Caya fell from a swing while playing with a friend.

Caya then came running to her mother crying, saying she had hit her head. Shortly afterward, Caya collapsed and became unconscious.

She was taken to Baptist Health in Richmond (then Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center) where she was stabilized, and then sent to UK Children’s Hospital.

Caya turned 8-years-old while in the hospital, her father said, where she remained on life support until her death.

Instead of a floral arrangement, an assortment of toy monkeys were placed on Caya’s casket. His daughter loved monkeys, Davis said, and she probably owned 30 or 40 toy monkeys.

“I’m taking Caya’s concept and turning it into something positive for the community — a community that gave us so much in our time of need,” he said.

His family went searching for “adorable and cute” monkeys and bought the rights to the logo. They began dropping business cards off at restaurants to peak interest.

Davis started a The Starving Monkey Facebook page to gauge the need in the community.

One Facebook fan, Natalie Dunaway, said, “This is the best thing ever. For me, it is a very wonderful thing because I have no car and, as of right now, I am so sick of pizza, Chinese (food) and subs! You will be getting plenty of business from me when you start!”

For now, Davis has been working with the Richmond Chamber, the Small Business Development Center at Eastern Kentucky University and Richmond-based website developer Startup Production to streamline the ordering and delivery process.

He is collaborating with Richmond Tourism to put menu guides and brochures in all of the local hotels when The Starving Monkey is up and running at full force.

“Starting this business is helping us heal from the loss of our daughter,” Davis said. “It’s about customer service — with so much negative in the world, we need something that’s positive.”

“I know Caya is with God,” he said, his voice cracking. “I still can’t wrap my head around it, but I know she is smiling on Daddy.”

For details, visit The Starving Monkey Facebook page or visit www.thestarvingmonkey.com.

Crystal Wylie can be reached at cwylie@

richmondregister.com

or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.