Why Some Restaurants Call Food Delivery Apps A ‘Necessary Evil’

…Many customers don’t realize how much food-delivery apps charge businesses like hers, says Abi-Najm Shea. For her restaurant group — which operates seven establishments in the D.C. region — the apps’ commission can run as high as 30% per order, on top of the various fees they charge customers.

…As customers have come to depend on food delivery, some service providers have raised their commissions to as high as 50 cents on the dollar, Webb says. Third-party apps also hoard user data so restaurants can’t market to app customers themselves. But restaurant owners are hesitant to drop the apps, he says, because they believe doing so would hand business to their competition.

It’s reached the point where restaurants are calling the apps a “necessary evil,” Webb says — and he’s channeled that sentiment into a campaign ChowNow recently launched called Order Better.

Order Better, which encourages diners to order directly from restaurants rather than through third-party services, is part public service announcement, part jab at the competition. For a flat monthly fee, ChowNow provides software that restaurants use to manage their own takeout and delivery systems, so Webb stands to benefit if more people order direct.

…Georgiadis suspects more eateries will be making that calculation as diners increasingly look to their phones when their stomachs start to rumble. App-driven delivery, she says, isn’t going anywhere.

“In today’s marketplace, it’s astounding the volume of delivery,” she says. “I think it’s just a lifestyle change that’s happening.”

But she doubts that delivery apps are a threat to the restaurant industry overall. People still love to dine out on Fridays — even if they’d rather order from their sofas on Thursdays.

“The people that are ordering delivery,” Georgiadis says, “are typically also the ones that will go out the next night.”


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