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Whether It’s Organic, Chocolate or Nonfat, the Milkman Delivers : Service: A modern version of an old-fashioned idea returns to Bay Area doorsteps, courtesy of a family-run firm.

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From Associated Press

Pat Vorella is a man who takes his milk very seriously. Pasteurized, homogenized, nonfat and chocolate--Vorella knows all about milk’s various sorts.

Bottled milk, organic milk, acidophilus milk--with his connections, Vorella has no problem getting hold of such upscale dairy products, making him a man many people want to know.

“Some of it’s fancy,” Vorella said. “But people who like that type of milk are going to do anything to get it.”

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Suspicious? Hardly.

Meet the Milkman, a modern version of an old-fashioned idea who has San Francisco Peninsula residents reliving the luxury of having milk delivered to their homes.

Like milkmen of another era, Vorella’s business is family owned and run. Two Vorella children deliver milk in the wee hours of the morning. Vorella’s wife, Kathy, helps run the office out of the family’s San Mateo home.

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The Milkman is just as dependable as you’d expect of a man who drives a shiny white truck. Deliveries are guaranteed by 6 a.m., and no order is too large or small.

Yet there are some differences between the business Vorella runs and that of his hometown milkman in Argentina, who traveled door-to-door in a horse-drawn cart.

Vorella’s menu, for example, is laced with California cuisine. Salsa, eggplant Parmesan, gourmet coffee and dishwasher detergent certainly weren’t part of milkmen’s offerings in another era.

Vorella’s temperature-controlled milk trucks are a fresh idea as well, as milk won’t spoil during the delivery.

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Despite such modern twists, home-delivered milk is basically an old-fashioned idea that has come back in style.

“People like the idea of the milkman,” Vorella said. “It’s a very practical idea.”

Yet being a milkman is no easy job.

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Just ask Vorella’s high school-age son, Patrick, who helps his father by delivering milk to customers four days a week.

In this day and age, that doesn’t mean chatting with neighbors and sipping coffee while making morning deliveries.

Rather, it means cruising dark roads, from Palo Alto to Sonoma County and from San Francisco to Walnut Creek, starting at midnight.

It means sharing the streets with no one but raccoons and deer.

And, on one particular night, it meant being stopped by Hillsborough police after jumping a fence to make a delivery.

For Pat Vorella, the job also means having to convince people that he’s serious.

Vorella said it is not uncommon for people to brush him off when he introduces himself as The Milkman.

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“People laugh and say, ‘There aren’t milkmen anymore,’ ” Vorella said. “I say, ‘Well, it’s me.’ ”

Father and son, however, agree that the risks are worth the rewards.

Few people garner the trust of clients like the milkman. Patrick Vorella said some clients give him house keys so he can put milk into their refrigerators while the family sleeps.

Others leave Vorella cookies on their doorsteps to make late-night deliveries a little easier.

Whether the draw is convenience, fresh dairy or sentimental value, The Milkman seems to be working.

Vorella has 1,200 customers throughout the Bay Area, the bulk of which are on the Peninsula. Most of The Milkman’s customers, Vorella said, are working families who are too busy to make nightly trips to the supermarket and who can’t afford live-in help.

Their orders are as varied as the clients themselves. Some people take cartons full of groceries each week. Some order a single bottle of organic milk.

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While Vorella has run a milk-delivery service for about 10 years, he only recently moved his business from Sonoma County to San Mateo because the majority of his business was on the Peninsula.

As business continues to grow, Vorella said he hopes to soon be a neighborhood fixture like the milkmen of another time and place.

Not a bad goal for a man who doesn’t even like milk.

“I used to drink it when I was small, but I don’t like cheese and other dairy products,” Vorella said.

“When you deal with a product everyday, you just don’t want to see it anymore.”

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