Carry Out Culture: Is Your Food Delivery App Hurting Your Favorite Restaurant?

To the typical consumer, the recent emergence of food-delivery apps like Grub Hub, Uber Eats and Seamless may appear as a win-win for those restaurants taking part – more convenient delivery and potential expansion to outside consumers should mean additional revenue. Right?

While companies like GrubHub maintain that the revenue they bring restaurants is “incremental”, adversaries would argue that as consumers use services like Uber Eats and Seamless, delivery orders are beginning to replace some restaurants’ core business instead of complementing it.

In 2016, delivery transactions accounted for roughly seven percent of total U.S. restaurant sales. This number may seem small when comparing the number of times you’ve Seamless-ed pad thai this week, but a recent report published by analysts at Morgan Stanley predicts that that number could eventually reach forty percent of all restaurant sales, and an even higher percentage in urban areas.

Despite restaurant owners fighting to preserve the dine-in culture they’d worked hard to establish, delivery it not something they can forgo. A representative for Curry-Ya, a Japanese restaurant in Harlem, expressed that “sometimes it seems like we’re making food to make Seamless profitable.” At the same time, she said, “it’s really becoming a bulk part of our business, so it’s not something we can cut.”

Although the future of the restaurant delivery landscape is unpredictable, there’s no denying that the industry is changing – fast.


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