Restaurants see impacts from food delivery services during pandemic

VIDEO: Restaurant deliveries during COVID-19

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - During this pandemic, restaurants are relying more on delivery orders and have seen an uptick in third-party food services.

Some restaurants starting partnering with services like Uber Eats, Postmates, and DoorDash during the crisis. Although some say it has helped their business, others discussed the downfalls.

Tomas Prado is the owner of Spanglish, a Cuban-American restaurant that just started doing deliveries on Uber Eats. He says initially they received more volume on the app, but so far it's been a pleasant experience.

“It’s definitely more beneficial for them to come to the restaurant and order food,” Prado said. “On the other hand, there’s a lot of people who can’t come to the restaurant. I’ve had people call who are elderly, don’t drive, and I tell them about Uber Eats.”

There are costs involved when partnering with a food delivery service, both to the consumer and the restaurant. Some services can charge restaurants 30% of each order as commission.

“It can definitely be daunting when you see those numbers,” Bon Banh Mi co-owner James Romano said.

Romano is on the owners for the southeast Asian restaurant, which has locations in Mount Pleasant and downtown Charleston. He says they have been using Uber Eats for years.

"When we partnered with them in 2017 it opened up our business to a segment of people that I would make the argument where we wouldn't otherwise have access to, prior to them," Romano said. "We had been open for almost 6 or 7 years before we partnered with them and we saw an uptick in revenue that I'm not sure we would've ever seen otherwise."

He adds that he would rather not pay the 30% that is charged in a perfect world, but it's the price he has to pay.

At Mex 1 Coastal Cantina, they have tried partnering up DoorDash, but ultimately decided to go another route. They’re now using the “toast” app for their food.

"My biggest qualm with DoorDash, Uber Eats, Postmates, the big guys is that it's kind of mad dash for market share and grab," Beverage & Marketing Director for Mex 1, Morgan Hurley, said. "The rates are a little too much in my opinion. They charge the consumer a fee to use the app and then they charge us up to 30 percent of the margin on the food that we're delivering."

Restaurants have also had complaints with some delivery services signing them up for delivery options, without their knowledge.

Postmates sent the following statement to Live 5 News:

“Commissions are privately negotiated agreements between the restaurant or a consumer goods business and the Postmates platform. We work closely with our business partners to build a custom agreement that reflects the services they ask us to provide to their business, these services are things like paying and providing benefits to delivery couriers, marketing, customer service, courier support, exposure to new customers, and insurance. Commissions are not “fees”, they are the main source of revenue for our company and they are how we pay for the services that we provide to businesses and our customers. Arbitrarily setting on-demand delivery prices has real consequences that undermine our ability to operate, fund relief efforts and benefit programs for merchants, couriers and customers, and kills the whole industry’s ability to provide the services restaurants need to stay open during this national emergency.”

Uber Eats has also stated that they are committed to supporting businesses during this time. They also say that commissions paid by the restaurant partners are what make it possible for them to provide the services needed. The 30% covers things like the platform that connects the customers to the restaurants and payment processing, which allows customers to pay by credit card and other means.

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