St. Louis food delivery: Why to call before ordering with an app
Health concerns aren’t the only reason restaurant owners are turning away from delivery apps
ST. LOUIS – The hottest table in town … is in your own kitchen.
The restaurant’s dining rooms have been closed for more than a month to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
But you have run out of leftovers and want to order. So, open your go-to-delivery app on your phone – Grubhub, Uber Eats, DoorDash – and decide to spot the associated shipping costs and surcharge on behalf of eating assistance, and within an hour you will be eating food from your favorite restaurant.
The unsavory side that you didn’t know about? This restaurant may lose money on your meal.
“It might work for some people when they have a lot of volume and keep sending things out the door, but that’s not our model,” said John Perkins, owner of Juniper in the Central West End. The restaurant briefly took orders through DoorDash during a trial period, but stopped when it started charging commissions: 25% of each order.
“I was just really, I don’t know, aggressive against third-party delivery systems because I felt they were exploitative of small businesses like mine,” Perkins said.
LISTEN: Subscribe to the Abby Eats St. Louis podcast
Restaurants pay these big companies up to 30% on average for orders placed through their apps, on top of the fees you pay.
“The restaurant’s margins are already small to begin with, and for every $ 10 you are taking $ 2.80 or $ 2.50, which is basically a loss,” Perkins said.
If you get a discount, e.g. For example, if an order is placed at $ 10, the restaurant may have to pay for it itself – even if it doesn’t agree to the discount.
RELATED: “We’ve Always Been Hustlers” | Restaurants get creative when they make coronavirus meal sets
Even promises to alleviate coronavirus, such as reduced commissions or deferred payments, were vague or tied to other commitments. Grubhub announced a suspension of some commission payments from their restaurants, but they would have to repay the fees later. Uber Eats offers to pay out restaurants for their orders daily instead of weekly to improve cash flow, but hasn’t cut commission fees. While some breaks are offered to new partners, restaurants that have previously used the services are usually exempt.
A DoorDash representative told 5 On Your Side that they are working to make their services more accessible and affordable for small businesses. This includes expanding the zero commission collections for new restaurant partners by May and halving the commission rates for restaurants with fewer than five locations.
Restaurants have to make up for the losses somehow, and Perkins said this is often at the expense of diners.
“The irony here is that the restaurants are the ones who get the backlash because they’re ‘expensive’. Well, they’re expensive on these things because they try to explain that loss of revenue,” Perkins said.
RELATED: Takeaway Drinks: Missouri eases alcohol restrictions on restaurants and businesses during COVID-19
While companies have published guidelines and measures to ensure safe drivers, there are no guarantees that individual drivers will follow them.
“Once the food leaves this door from a third-party system, we cannot guarantee that it will arrive on time, that nothing will happen to this order, that no one else is in the car, that everyone is wearing masks and gloves,” said Tara Byerley. Manager at the Three Kings Public House in Des Peres. She said these were some of the concerns that prompted owners to create their own delivery system that also keeps some of their employees working.
“With third-party systems, you don’t know if they are waiting for other orders, if they are going to other houses in front of you, but with internal delivery you can guarantee that the order will be fulfilled by the Kings at your doorstep. “
Conclusion: If you want to support your favorite restaurant, first check whether you can order by phone or directly via their website – or whether these are delivered via cheaper local platforms such as Food Pedaler or 569DINE. It could save you and the restaurant in several ways.
You can hear more of these interviews and get a deeper look at how these provisioning apps work by listening to the Abby Eats St. Louis podcast titled “Don’t Populate Apps.” Listen to this original 5 On Your Side podcast and subscribe to it for free on all major platforms.