Lesa Seavey of Diamond Delivery Maine will deliver whatever people in Oxford Hills need. Submitted photo

HEBRON — Restaurants and sandwich shops have been upended by the threat of coronavirus as expanding directives from Maine state officials have restricted food service businesses and stressed social distancing over the last two weeks.

No table service. Limits on counter sales. Front-of-house employees have been laid off and kitchen staffs operate with skeleton crews. Some establishments are down to the owner of the store, doing whatever they can to keep their businesses open.

While businesses struggle and their customers avoid public contact there is an option in Oxford Hills that connects local stores to consumers – Diamond Delivery Maine, a take-out delivery service.

Lesa Seavey of Hebron has been working as a delivery driver for years. She started out driving for the service her cousin runs in the greater Portland area, learning the ropes. In 2014 she went out on her own in the Lewiston/Auburn area. After moving to Hebron two years ago and seeing an unmet need in Oxford Hills, Seavey decided to expand her services to include communities west of Minot and Mechanic Falls.

And just in the last two weeks as communities have closed down in response to COVID-19, Seavey has made the Oxford area her focus of operation.

“I am exclusively delivering take-out from Oxford-area restaurants only,” she explained on Monday afternoon in between stops. “For the time being I am sticking close to home. I will deliver to Auburn, but if a customer wants take-out they have to order from here. I am not currently serving Lewiston locations at all.”

With the current circumstances Seavey has also expanded what she delivers, a lifeline for people who are shut-in because of health concerns, or shut-out from goods that have disappeared from store shelves. She posts pictures on Diamond Delivery’s Facebook page of hard-to-find items like toilet paper, disinfectant wipes and other paper goods, making them available on a first-order, first-serve basis.

“I generally don’t do mark-ups on these things, unless I have to drive a great distance,” she said. “On age-restricted goods I’m not allowed to anyway. My delivery fees average between $7 – $15 per delivery, and it depends on my drive.”

During the COVID-19 public health crisis, Seavey has decided to concentrate her customer territory in about a dozen towns: Minot, Mechanic Falls, Poland, Oxford, Norway, Otisfield, Hebron, Buckfield, Paris, West Paris, Hartford and Sumner. She will drive further if a customer needs her to but it requires scheduling ahead.

Diamond Delivery Maine connects food vendors and stores with customers in Oxford Hills. Submitted photo

She has protocols that she needs to follow for some items as well. For people who need prescription drugs delivered, Seavey has to know specific details to complete the customer’s transaction with the pharmacist.

If she is to deliver liquor, the person who placed the order is the only person who can physically receive it. They must have a proper and valid ID, and she scans it to record the transaction.

Diamond Delivery is on call Sunday – Thursday from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays Seavey’s stated hours are until 9 p.m., but she generally is available until her deliveries are done. She accepts payments made with cash, Square or Venmo. For convenience, she sometimes pays for the merchandise she delivers when she picks it up and the customer can pay her directly so they have just one transaction to track.

For times that she can’t stay ahead of demand she is able to tap other drivers to pitch in, including her husband. Part-time drivers operate as form 1099 sub-contractors, carry their own insurance and track their own mileage.

“It’s been crazy through all this,” Seavey said. “Normally I might gain a dozen or more customers a week. But since last week I’ve added well over a 100 delivery addresses. I never thought I’d be delivering more toilet paper than food.”

Comments are not available on this story.