We Asked Montreal Restaurants How They Feel About Uber Eats & How We Can Best Support Them
It's easy to get caught up in an Uber Eats ordering cycle. All of your info is already inputted — including special delivery instructions — you can track your food's journey, and a little message even pops up to "Thank you for supporting restaurants."
While there's no question that ordering through a third-party delivery app like Uber Eats or SkipTheDishes is one way to support your favourite neighbourhood food joints, many Montreal restaurants say it's also not the best way.
So, how can we use our cravings for good?
We asked local restaurants how we can best support them during this COVID-19-filled holiday season.
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How do you REALLY feel about Uber Eats and third-party food delivery apps?
"My first advice to Quebecers that want to help out our industry is that it is preferable to order directly from the restaurant than using an app," said Martin Vézina, a spokesperson for the Association Restauration Québec (ARQ).
Vézina told MTL Blog the reason is simple: "All the money from your order goes to the restaurant."
Lise Dang, co-owner of Le Petit SAO, agrees.
"We definitely prefer our customers support us by ordering directly for pick up through our app on our website," she said
Third-party delivery apps generally take close to 30% of a restaurants' profits as a commission fee for each order.
"We find the commissions of 30% we are charged too high," said Paulo Teixeira, who owns Cantinho & Cantinho Express.
"More frustrating is that we can't make follow-ups with our clients on their satisfaction with us."
He said Cantinho is working on its own order and delivery platform so it can save on commissions, while customers save on delivery fees.
Are some apps better than others?
Some restaurants say alternative services are better for them than big-names.
Enrique Chan, who owns Tacos Frida, recommends using Eva through the CHK PLZ app, which operates commission-free.
Some businesses also say SkipTheDishes is more flexible in terms of offering individual contracts to each restaurant.
For instance, Le Petit Sao's Dang says SkipTheDishes takes a bit less than Uber's 30% but she couldn't tell us exactly how much.
Giuseppe Maselli, who owns Dilallo Burger, said SkipTheDishes offers him a reduced rate for using his own drivers to facilitate orders through the app.
SkipTheDishes also recently announced a support plan for restaurants during the second wave of COVID-19, which includes a 25% rebate on commission for local, independent restaurant partners and a 0% commission rate for any new restaurants joining the network during the restriction period.
What If Uber Eats is the only option?
Vézina clarified that it's still helpful to order through an app, including Uber Eats, in certain cases — for instance, if you live too far from a restaurant, or a restaurant you like doesn't offer in-house delivery.
"It's still a sale and in [...] pandemic times, we need all the business [we can get] coming from customers."
A spokesperson from Lloydie's told MTL Blog, "It's always best for people to come into the restaurant and order [but] if not, the pickup option from Uber Eats works as well."
When you order through Uber Eats but select 'Pickup' instead of delivery, you "save your local restaurant the cost of any service fee. Pickup is offered at 0% for restaurants through Winter (March 31, 2021)," reads an Uber statement.
Uber also recently launched new measures to support the food-service industry amidst the second wave of coronavirus in Quebec.
These include: eliminating service charges for takeout orders, reducing charges to 15% when restaurants use their own delivery services, and "online ordering," which is when restaurants use their own system to accept orders but make use of Uber's delivery people, at a reduced service charge.*
Ultimately, Uber is not the devil for local restaurants. At least not according to Maselli from Dilallo Burger.
"It provides us with another type of clientele that we can not reach with our own drivers," Maselli said.
"Some areas or some zones are too far."
Maselli said his drivers are already on the payroll, so ordering directly helps him avoid Uber charges, but he still sees Uber Eats as beneficial to his business.
"I think it did provide a lot of relief to a lot of restaurants," he said.
"With the pandemic, had it not been for these online services, a lot of restaurants that are suffering would have suffered a lot more."
*This article has been updated.