As the COVID-19 crisis worsens, more and more people are staying home. At the same time, efforts like #TheGreatAmericanTakeout reflect a growing concern for the independent restaurants at the heart of our communities.
Guides like Intentionalist’s Takeout & Delivery Directory were created to help consumers navigate the restaurants and coffee shops still open for business. But a question hangs in the air: When it comes to third party food delivery companies, which one is doing the most good?
The answer is not clear. While consumers are inclined to pay more attention to delivery fees, the commissions charged to independent restaurants are substantial – in many instances, these fees equate to approximately 30 percent of the order value, substantially cutting into already thin margins for struggling independent businesses.
When it comes to deciding which food delivery company to use, for those who care about what’s best for independent restaurants, it’s best to either order takeout (many businesses are offering curbside or contactless options) or delivery from a business that is not using a third party.
That said, there are understandably instances when third party delivery is the only viable option. Perhaps you have an underlying health concern or a disability. Maybe you want to deliver meals to medical staff who are working around the clock, or teachers who are adapting to virtual teaching. With that in mind, here’s an update on how the major companies are responding to the current crisis:
Grubhub – Grubhub announced that it is deferring commissions, which helps short-term cash flow, but ultimately businesses that survive the crisis will be faced with repayment of substantial fees. Eater rightly questioned the “benefit” to independent restaurants.
Seamless – Similar to its parent company, Grubhub, Seamless announced that it is deferring commissions for independent restaurants.
Doordash & Caviar – Doordash announced that independent restaurants in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Australia can sign up for Doordash or Caviar and pay zero commission fees for 30 days. For existing Doordash and Caviar partners, the companies are waiving commission fees for takeout orders but NOT delivery orders (Note: If you’re ordering takeout, we recommend ordering directly from the restaurant). Again, see Intentionalist’s Takeout & Delivery Directory for the latest options.
Postmates – Postmates shared that it is offering contactless deliveries. They also mentioned that they would pilot temporary waiver of commission fees for businesses in the SF Bay Area. Since their blog on March 13, 2020, the crisis has escalated, but they have not provided any additional updates.
Uber Eats – Uber Eats announced that it is waiving delivery fees for consumers across the U.S. and Canada, but no concessions have been made for businesses. Independent restaurants must still pay their 30 percent commission fee.
We believe that food delivery companies need to be doing a lot more to support independent restaurants. If you share our sentiments, please consider signing on to our open letter, here (via the comments section).
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Intentionalist is your local guide to small businesses and the diverse people behind them. We believe that where you spend your money matters, and we’re sure glad you do too! Whether you identify as a localist, activist, or just a good neighbor, we make it easy for you to connect with, learn about, and support small businesses in your community through everyday decisions about where you eat, drink, and shop.