The idea to begin a food delivery business emerged this summer while sophomore runners Linzell Robinson and Juwon Owolabi were rapping about starting a donut company.
A few months later, the pair brought late-night food delivery service, “LJ’s Midnight Munchies” to Lehigh in an effort to fill a market gap they noticed over the summer.
Originally the plan was to deliver donuts, but Robinson and Owolabi’s version of donuts was biscuits with icing. This inspired the runners to create LJ’s Midnight Munchies.
Owolabi, a self-taught coder, created and maintains the LJ’s Midnight Munchies website. He learned to code using a free coding website prior to starting his freshman year at Lehigh.
“A lot of professionals and professors kept suggesting that I use a drag-and-drop website builder such as Weebly and Wix,” Owolabi said, “but I refused because I wanted our customers to completely understand our message and what we were trying to get across — that message being, ‘Everything we do is completely crafted around our customers.’ We try our very best to personalize everything to create a unique dining experience for each and every customer.”
Robinson sets the menu and prices and takes charge in the kitchen. Owolabi said Robinson has been cooking since he was 4 years old, so he pushed the idea of making their own food to sell.
Robinson and Owolabi deliver the homemade food themselves. On a typical night, LJ’s receives about 50 online orders between their operating hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The sophomores said their busiest time is from 12:30-2:30 a.m. and their goal is to cut delivery time down to 15 minutes or less.
In establishing the business model, Robinson and Owolabi said they wanted to make sure they were able to simultaneously turn a profit and promise low prices.
“We would hate for someone to be left out of a moment with their friends simply because they can’t afford it,” Robinson said.
Robinson and Owolabi said they’re enjoying the hectic lifestyle that comes with being student entrepreneurs.
“It’s intense,” Robinson said. “There are sacrifices that need to be made when you’re trying to do as much as we have. Of course, there are times where you wish that you had a normal student lifestyle, but then you remind yourself of the reasons why you do everything you do.”
To add to their time commitment, both men are members of Lehigh’s track and field team.
With hopes of expanding, Robinson and Owolabi recruited sophomore Mustaffa Said as their chief marketing officer. Said plans to help promote and represent LJ’s as well as coordinate future business pitches, presentations and logistics.
In the future, Robinson and Owolabi hope LJ’s will become a prominent fast-food delivery service. The team also looks to expand the business to other small-town college campuses.
Said foresees LJ’s becoming “one of the premier late-night grub spots in the Lehigh Valley.”
“The goal is to open up a restaurant so many more people can be exposed to the delectable and mouthwatering goodness that is LJ’s Midnight Munchies,” he said.
Soon, “midnight munchers” — as Robinson and Owolabi call their customers — can look forward to LJ’s merchandise and the ability to order “LJ’s Midday Brunchies” on Sundays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.