Saskatchewan

Sask. restaurant owners asking people to skip the apps and order direct

Some Sask. restauranteurs are asking customers to skip delivery apps and call orders in directly. 

'It just doesn't work for our business model': Odd Couple owner Andy Yuen

The Uber Eats app is shown on an iPhone in Chicago. Uber Eats posted on their website that it was cutting fees until May 20 for independent businesses. (Charles Rex Arbogast/The Associated Press)

Some Sask. restauranteurs are asking customers to skip delivery apps and call orders in directly. 

Tim Rogers, co-owner of The Capitol and The Lancaster Taphouse in Regina, said delivery apps used to provide secondary income, but have now become the main source.

"They've always been very expensive but at this point now that it's our only source of income, their costs are catastrophic," Rogers said. 

App costs vary between 28 and 35 per cent of the cost of the order each time, he said. He said it was less of a big deal before the pandemic, when only about about five per cent of his sales were through an app.

Rogers said the app companies reduced costs when the pandemic started, but since restaurants' dependence on the app has increased, so has what they are paying. 

Tim Rogers, co-owner of Lancaster Taphouse, says his restaurant is now completely relying on food delivery apps. (CBC News)

Rogers said he has considered increasing the prices for their food to keep up with the costs, but decided against it because the app is strict.

"We also don't think it's very fair to the consumer to just up-charge," he said. 

Rogers said he's still on the app because of the visibility. He said people can order on the Lancaster Taphouse website, and he encourages people to order through there for their second or third order. Rogers said right now he's not exactly making a profit, but keeping what people he can employed. 

"We're staying afloat, I guess. We're keeping the lights on," he said.

Skip the Dishes previously told CBC it has implemented a support package that provides a 'commission rebate' on every order placed. (Skip the Dishes)

CBC Saskatchewan has contacted Skip The Dishes, DoorDash and UberEats for comment. On March 16, 2020, UberEats posted they were waiving delivery fees for thousands of local restaurants until May 20, 2020. 

DoorDash told CBC it has cut commission fees by 50 per cent for local restaurants until the end of May and that the fees go to a variety of business costs including paying and insuring drivers. It said restaurants can also use the platform to use their own drivers or arrange pickups. 

SkiptheDishes previously told CBC it has an option for customers to tip the restaurants directly. It also says it has implemented a support package that provides a "commission rebate" on every order placed.

Andy Yuen owns Odd Couple in Saskatoon. The restaurant is open for delivery but is not using delivery apps. Instead, people can phone, place their order and have it delivered.

Yuen said he made the decision because he wanted to keep some of his servers employed, he wasn't comfortable having someone he didn't know delivering his food and because of how much the apps charge. 

Andy Yuen owns Odd Couple in Saskatoon. (CBC)

"The cost has been high since day one," he said. 

"I think it does serve a purpose. It just doesn't work for our business model."

Yuen said he knows his restaurant doesn't reach the same audience it would if they were on an app, but that his small shop relies on human connection.

He said customers have been supportive. 

"We have been amazed. Saskatoon has been amazing in supporting us," Yuen said. "I honestly think that if they want to support us, they will, so I don't feel as much of an issue there."

Yuen said he always wanted to make a delivery system for the shop and now has a chance to try it out and work out the kinks.

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