Montreal-based companies work to keep food delivery services local

New food-ordering platforms are stepping up to the plate, going up against delivery giants and inviting Quebecers to support locally owned delivery services like RestoLoco and Radish.

With public health measures shutting down dining rooms, restaurants rely on takeout and delivery

Axel Lespérance, founder of RestoLoco, says the company is going public "so everyone can buy shares of resto loco and become shareholders." (Sharon Yonan-Renold/CBC)

These days, evenings are pretty quiet at La Bêtise, a Montreal tapas bar and eatery.

That's because public health measures have barred dine-in service and closed bars, meaning it's takeout or delivery only.

That means customers are turning to big-name delivery apps to get a taste of their favourite local foods, but those apps, which charge a delivery fee, are far from local. For example, DoorDash and Uber Eats are both based in the United States.

New food-ordering platforms are stepping up to the plate against delivery giants and inviting Quebecers to support locally owned delivery services like RestoLoco.

And La Bêtise is one of the many restaurants relying on RestoLoco, according to the restaurant's owner, Douglas Tan.

"We're actually 100 per cent relying on them," said Tan.

People just aren't calling the restaurant and ordering the traditional way anymore, he said. 

RestoLoco goes public

Restoloco founder and CEO Axel Lespérance said everybody can get a piece of the pie.

"We are opening our capital to the public so everyone can buy shares of Restoloco and become shareholders," he said.

In 2019, Canadians spent $1.5 billion on food delivery. The companies not only charge customers a few bucks per delivery, but they also charge hefty commissions from restaurants.

Last year, the province adopted legislation limiting the fees delivery apps can charge restaurants to 20 per cent when dining rooms are closed, but some eateries are still struggling to pay that price.

Lespérance says investing in his new delivery service means restaurants can participate in the company's growth, and get some of those profits back.

Douglas Tan, owner of La Bêtise in Montreal's Rosemont neighbourhood, says his tapas bar relies 100 per cent on RestoLoco. (Sharon Yonan-Renold/CBC)

"This is what we need, we need a collective movement to face the delivery giants that are actually dominating the market," he said.

With partnerships across Quebec, RestoLocal is operating in about a dozen different cities in the province and in Ottawa.

Lespérance says the goal is to keep money circulating in the local economy, and by partnering with local taxi companies for deliveries, the company keeps prices low. 

RestoLoco offers a transparent platform without any intermediary, giving control to restaurant owners who are able to list their menus without restrictions — and with lower commission fees.

"We propose a tool for restaurant owners to free themselves from the monopoly of large delivery platforms," the company says on its website.

RestoLoco's owner said he hopes to expand the company even further across Canada, helping restaurants stay afloat in the face of a roller coaster of public health restrictions.

RestoLoco not the only game in town

Tan has been using RestoLoco's service for more than a year and says it's accounted for about 15 per cent more profit in his pocket.

"It's a lot of money. It's the difference between paying your rent and not paying your rent," he said.

Mansib Rahman, co-founder of Radish. (Alexandre Joyce)

RestoLoco isn't the only local company offering a food delivery service.

Radish — a play on rad dish — was founded in 2020 as a Montreal venture aimed at delivering Montreal-made food to Montrealers.

Radish is the brainchild of co-founder and CEO Mansib Rahman. The company announced in December that its delivery service will be made carbon neutral over the next few years. 

"This project requires significant technological innovations so that our green delivery alternatives, such as our cargo bikes, can maintain the efficiency and quality of our traditional delivery methods," the company said on Facebook.

with files from Sharon Yonan-Renold


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