Summertime screams for ice scream, and so do we, because nothing is more refreshing on a hot summer day like a some solid crème glacée.
Today, all of Montreal is getting ice cream, delivered right to your door, office, or spot in that park, all thanks to Uber, Montreal's premiere cab-calling app.
Only for today, July 18th, Uber will be driving around town handing out ice cream, between the hours of 11am and 5pm. All you gotta do is open Uber, tap on the "Ice Cream" option, and in minutes you'll be enjoying some quality Montreal-made Le Bilboquet ice cream.
Don't even worry about having cash on you, as your ice cream bill will go straight to your Uber account. No stress about ordering either, as for only $25 you get 5 ice creams and some complimentary Uber swag. All you gotta do is sign up, use the promo code: ICECREAMMTLBLOG and $20 off your first ice cream delivery or taxi ride.
A pretty large chunk of Montreal will be in the delivery zone, going north to Jean-Talon, east to Iberville, west to Highway 15/Decarie, and south all the way to the Lachine Canal. For a visual, here's a handy map.
Uber, for all those who don't know yet, is a mobile smartphone app that gets you where you need to go, anytime and anywhere. Functioning kind of like a personal taxi service, Uber uses your personal location and finds the nearest available taxi/van/Escalade (for real) to drive you to your destination.
Best about Uber is the fact that drivers are tracked in real-time, giving you a legit timeframe of when your car will arrive to pick you up. Plus, no money is ever needed, as its all charged to your Uber account, making those stressful times without cash at 3am and your need to get home a nonexistent problem.
If you've been looking for an alternative to traditional delivery apps like Uber Eats and SkipTheDishes, a local Montreal startup has just what you're looking for. CHK PLZ, started by Eric Haniak and his business partners Roberto Casoli and Olivier Eydt, offers commission-free delivery that aims to "empower" restaurants relying on delivery to survive during the pandemic.*
"When COVID-19 restrictions came into effect, we noticed Montreal restaurants were struggling to transition from a dine-in to a takeout/delivery model," Matthew Haniak, CHK PLZ marketing director, told MTL Blog.
With high commission fees of 20-30%, it is simply not sustainable for restaurants to rely on [other apps] as their sole source of revenue.
Matthew Haniak, CHK PLZ marketing director
"We created a commission-freeplatform for restaurants toreach their customers online and accept orders directly from their own website."
With over 250 restaurant partners and counting, CHK PLZ is full of familiar favourites like Arthurs and Satay Brothers.
"The issue with other delivery apps like Uber Eats and SkipTheDishes is that they were never designed to be the main delivery provider for restaurants," said Matthew.
"Above just our app, customer should focus on ordering from a restaurant's website rather than using popular apps — this is really the best way to support restaurants in these difficult times," added Eric.
CHK PLZ is available for download on both the Apple and Android app stores.
If you've been single in Quebec during COVID-19, your DMs have most likely been dry — at least if you've been following public health protocols issued by the government. In the hours of frenzied swiping you can waste when searching for the next love of your life on Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Facebook Dating and other dating apps, it might seem like there's an endless array of choices in Montreal's dating pool.
But little is known about how Canadians, including Montrealers, are actually using dating apps right now, a period marked by confinement and red-zone closures.
Are they even using dating apps? Or have other methods of dating become more popular?
We spoke to some of your favourite dating apps, as well as local matchmaking experts, to find out more about Quebecers' dating habits during the pandemic.
Are Quebecers using anything besides dating apps to date right now?
Cheryl Besner, a Montreal matchmaker and CJAD 800 radio host, said that matchmaking has slowed down amid COVID-19.
She thinks this decrease could be due to local singles being strapped for funds as a result of losing work during the pandemic.
Besner said she hit pause on her matchmaking service in March because she didn't think it was right to capitalize on forced isolation.
While financial woes may have caused local matchmaking to slow down, she said high-end matchmaking among wealthy Montrealers who have the disposable income to spend on dating is still going strong.
Kavita Ajwani, who owns Montreal-based company Dashing Date, told MTL Blog she has seen a "major increase" in virtual speed dating. Many of her new customers, she said, have been first-timers.
The average price of attending a virtual speed dating event with Dashing Date is $29.
How have Quebecers used Bumble throughout the pandemic?
We talked to a spokesperson for Bumble about how its Canadian users have dated during the pandemic.
Bumble has a video calling feature directly in the app to facilitate virtual dates and friend meet-ups while Canadians are forced to quarantine due to COVID-19.
In Canada, Bumble saw over a 70% increase in video calls during the week ending May 1, compared to the number of video calls during the week ending March 13, according to the spokesperson.
Bumble also saw that Canadian users sent 33% more messages on Bumble at the start of the pandemic in March — likely due to the boredom induced through having to be home at all times.
"In Canada, the average video chat time on Bumble increased from 15 minutes during the first week of social distancing to over 30 minutes during the height of the pandemic earlier this year," a spokesperson told MTL Blog.
She also said Bumble implemented a new 'Virtual Dating Badge' feature that users could include on their profile to indicate they were open to video dates.
She said one million global Bumble users added the feature to their profiles.
How have Quebecers used Hinge throughout the pandemic?
A spokesperson for Hinge told MTL Blog that the company has not made local Canadian statistics available.
But they did give us some indication of how Hinge users have behaved during the pandemic — if you're a Hinge lover, these statistics include your usage.
Hinge saw a 30% increase in messages among users this past March, compared to January and February, the spokesperson said.
Hinge also rolled out video calling to facilitate virtual dating during the pandemic. The spokesperson said that Hinge found over half of its users are likely to keep using video chats as a dating tool, even when they can safely meet up IRL.
In a Hinge study from this past summer, a majority of LGBTQ2+ Hinge users — 55% — shared that using the app had been helpful with fighting feelings of loneliness or isolation, especially by being able to get in touch with people in their city, according to the spokesperson.
Hinge data shows that the most popular time for video dates is 9 or 10 p.m., which they says is known as the "Dating Hour."
And what is most striking, the spokesperson revealed, is that Hinge’s app downloads were up 82% this year as of November, despite global lockdowns as a result of COVID-19.
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.
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.
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."