Ottawa

Ottawa restaurant consultant concerned about DoorDash delivery app

A local restaurant consultant is concerned about a new food delivery service in the city, DoorDash, which lists restaurants and their menu items on its website without permission.

Company lists local menu items without the restaurants' consent and can charge premium for delivery

Sharif Virani, left, sits with Nara Sok, co-owner of Tomo restaurant in the ByWard Market. They think most restaurants in the city don't even know DoorDash is claiming to deliver on their behalf. (John Finnigan Lin)

People working in Ottawa's food scene are surprised to see their restaurants on a delivery app's offerings, especially because no one asked them if they wanted to be on the menu. 

Nara Sok, co-owner of Tomo restaurant in the ByWard Market said he first found out his restaurant was on delivery app DoorDash from friend Sharif Virani.

"I hadn't even heard of DoorDash before," said Sok.

Virani, who does business development with local restaurants, said delivery apps don't usually work like this.

"There isn't a huge courting process, but there's at least a touch point between the restaurant and the company before anything begins. And that doesn't exist at all with DoorDash," said Virani. "There's no interaction whatsoever. They view it simply as a relationship between themselves and their customers, the people ordering food. They don't see the restaurants as part of that equation."

The problem, according to Virani, is that issues with delivery or possible markups in pricing will reflect poorly on the restaurant. Also, complaints about DoorDash's service go to the restaurant, which often doesn't even know its food was ordered via the company's website.

Tomo Restaurant menu items are listed on DoorDash's website despite never seeking approval from the restaurant, according to its co-owner Nara Sok. (DoorDash.com)

Then there's the issue of when an order goes wrong, said Virani. With other delivery services there are mechanisms for the customer to rectify problems. With DoorDash, he said, the restaurant is stuck handling the complaint. 

Moreover, many restaurants can't guarantee a menu item will travel well so they don't offer delivery. That isn't a concern for the California-based DoorDash, according to Virani, which is acting more as a courier than a food delivery service.

According to Virani, several restaurateurs have expressed concerns to him about being added to a delivery service they wanted no part of. 

"Many steakhouses don't delivery because the food would continue to cook en route. Many restaurants remove steak as an item from their delivery menu for this reason. It doesn't travel well and it's not meant to travel," said Virani.

'Marketing opportunity'

CBC was unable to interview a DoorDash spokesperson before publication, but the company did supply a statement:

"For the majority of our merchants, being on DoorDash offers not only an additional influx of customers and revenue, but also presents an additional marketing opportunity. For those not interested in being on DoorDash for any reason, we immediately remove them from the platform upon their request."

Virani and Sok said they haven't been able to find a way to contact DoorDash to make that request.