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Restaurants unhappy with food delivery services, drivers

July 19, 2019

A restaurant owner says he is left with only pennies after food courier services such as SkipTheDishes take a 25 per cent bite out of the sales.

Staying in is the new going out, and food couriers are a must-have for homebodies. Services like SkipTheDishes and Uber Eats have experienced exponential growth in recent years.

Through an app on their smartphones, customers choose a restaurant and order their food.  A delivery fee and optional tip are added to the bill, both of which go to the driver.  But some restaurants are not happy with the service saying they are experiencing problems with drivers and high costs that eat away at their bottom line.

“We pay SkipTheDishes 25 per cent of every sale which is huge, there’s not a lot of profit left over at the end of it.” says Michael Wilson, Owner and Executive Chef of The Smokehouse BBQ & Bar.

Wilson says he was also approached by Uber Eats but chose not to use their service because they charged even higher.  

Wilson adds his restaurant has also encountered issues with the food couriers themselves. He says drivers are not accepting orders where the delivery fee and tip are too low to make the time and mileage worthwhile.  He has voiced his concerns with SkipTheDishes. “They give you a runaround of ‘well they don’t control the drivers, the drivers are self-employed’ so there’s really no consequences for them not taking orders."

Wilson says although the costs are high, the service does provide an opportunity for new restaurants to make a name for themselves and gain a share of the local market. Jason Austin, General Manager for Italian Table agrees, adding that the service allows him to focus on the business inside of the restaurant. “They (SkipTheDishes) look after the platform, they manage the customers, it really allows us to just focus on our business inside our doors.”

Austin says the experience his restaurant has had with SkipTheDishes has been positive. He tells Bridge City News that he is "happy that SkipTheDishes exposes my food to all customers, dine or delivery without us having to operate a delivery business." He adds that he uses the platform to gather feedback from customers.

Back at The Smokehouse BBQ & Bar, Wilson reports that delivery sales have increased sales by 30 per cent, but he has noticed a 50 per cent drop in dine-in business.

Changes to Canada’s impaired-driving laws may also be discouraging patrons that consume alcohol with their meal from visiting restaurants. A December 2018 amendment to the criminal code allows police officers to conduct mandatory alcohol screening on drivers, even without suspicion of impaired driving.  Drivers could also be in violation of impaired driving laws up to two hours after operating a vehicle.

in December 2016, SkipTheDishes was acquired by UK-based Just Eat for $200M. SkipTheDishes remained a subsidiary and separate brand to Just Eat, with its Canadian headquarters to stay in Winnipeg, MB.  As of September 2018, the Just Eat Canada website redirects to SkipTheDishes.