A year after the pandemic, the face of food delivery in St. Petersburg Louis is still changing
For many people, delivering food usually means Chinese or pizza; most other foods require eating out, or at least leaving the house to pick up food. But with a pandemic limiting the way visitors can visit their favorite places, many restaurants are turning to running them, including some that have never offered them before. Now, restaurants are competing with an unprecedented number of to-go orders, which can mean paying astronomical fees to delivery services that demand up to 30% commission for managing orders and deliveries. While some local restaurants have found a silver lining in the services offered by apps like Grubhub and DoorDash, others have looked for their own solutions, including locally based delivery apps that offer greener options – and for some, financially sustainable options.
Nudo’s house used to use a delivery service called Skip the Dishes, which folded into Grubhub in the US market in 2019. When the new partnership proved unsatisfactory, Nudo House turned to Postmates. “We don’t like anything [GrubHub] offered in terms of cost, so we went with Postmates, ”explained Nudo House general manager Chris Ladley. Between the two locations Nudo House and sister restaurant Mai Lee, the restaurant can get a little break from the cost. “They still take money from us, but that’s a necessary crime,” he explained. The Delmar Nudo House location is already in operation with over 70% of its sales coming from recent deliveries and deliveries, meaning a lot of orders are coming through Postmates. For most restaurants, keeping commissions as low as possible is a top priority, especially now, when lots of people eat out less. “The margins on the food are already thin,” Ladley said. “And then give [GrubHub] 30% discount for someone to deliver your food in sufficient time? It didn’t work for Nudo House.
Their problem with Grubhub is more than just cost; Ladley says the ordering process is confusing and leaves little room for customer interaction, which is a problem when dealing with something like a food allergy or menu changes while flying. “We will get phone calls from call centers in other countries that place the order, and if we have questions about modifications, we will not be able to contact the customer,” he said. “Postmates has a better user interface, although it’s still not that great.” On the plus side, Postmates allows restaurants to contact customers with questions and problems.
Nonetheless, Postmates leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to allowing customers to express their gratitude directly to the restaurant they are ordering from. “We allow tipping, but Postmates don’t. So if you order [through Postmates]”You can’t tip restaurants,” said Ladley. “Our tips are spread across the staff. You don’t just tip the person who made your order; there are a lot of people. “If you tip via a delivery app, it’s straight to the driver, and given the other costs (shipping, taxes, and so on), people are often less likely to tip the driver well, so no one wins (except, from the app. itself). As such, Ladley encourages customers to call and order directly from Nudo House; That way, they can rest assured that service is fast – “You’ll never wait more than seven minutes for your meal. [when you call], ”He said – and could contact the restaurant directly if there was a problem or mistake. “I understand that it is more comfortable [to order online], but I still prefer it if people call us or come in. It’s more economical for everyone to get that third party out of the circle, ”he argued.
Some local restaurants have decided to skip the application completely by starting their own delivery service. Maplewood Hotspots Elm wood offers fine dining in front of the grill before the pandemic but has for a while been a take-out pizzeria (with specials revolving around from the past). Elmwood co-owner and general manager, Chris Kelling, said they had never considered looking elsewhere for delivery services. “Our goal is to keep jobs and income going,” he explained. “And you can’t guarantee product quality after a 20 minute drive home. We want to be in control as much as we can. “Watching the pizza from the oven to the customer’s doorstep allows them to make sure the pizza arrives whole and in a reasonable time.
To set up and run the delivery, Kelling recruited two more employees just to help with the driving. Elmwood’s pizza delivery program offers a slot every 15 minutes, with two drivers taking turns turning off pie delivery to customers within a six-mile radius of the restaurant. The $ 3 delivery fee goes straight to the driver, while a checkout tip is split between the entire team, ensuring everyone on the staff gets a slice of the cake. In its own way it has been a good move for Elmwood, allowing him to focus on taking care of his team while also developing his pizza program (and extraordinary branding).
Melanie Meyer, solo artist behind Korean-inspired restaurant Little Chef (located inside the Silver Ballroom), decided early in the pandemic not to offer delivery at all. His decision was confirmed last week during a bizarre interaction with a random delivery driver who appeared to pick up food that wasn’t on his menu. “They didn’t even ask if you wanted to be there – they just threw whatever they thought you were there,” said Meyer with a laugh. “The menu is actually for the Silver Ballroom in Utah or something. [The app] take their menu and put it on our menu. They don’t ask. “He said the app was not only wrong on the menu, but they also never reached out to confirm any of that. One can imagine his surprise when a driver came into his restaurant (even before he opened service) trying to order” biscuits and gravy, ranch wraps and chicken tenders. “- a dish he’s never been offered before.
Meyer was quick to point out that the app was the problem, not the driver. “He ended up being absolutely incredible,” admitted Meyer. “He said, ‘I actually wanted to come back here as a customer!’” However, Ladley of Nudo House was more skeptical of drivers, pointing out that many of them were overloaded and therefore prone to rush and screw up their orders. “Many drivers [work for] many places: Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, ”he explained. “Your bag may have fallen in their trunk while they were driving for an hour.” Ultimately, wrong orders and long waiting times have a devastating effect on the restaurant, even if it’s not their fault. “When people run into problems through Postmates, they’ll call and want a refund,” said Ladley, who was unable to issue refunds for a Postmates order. “I don’t have the money. I will receive payment for your order in two weeks, ”he pointed out.
Even so, Meyer is open to offering delivery someday. “I want to, but I want to do it independently,” he explained. “I don’t want to do it through any third party company. I remember the fees they used, how annoying they were, how rude they were. “In the meantime, he will continue to focus on execution and, eventually, start offering more outdoor seating outside the Silver Ballroom.
Many restaurants in the Central West End and downtown have taken different avenues to offer delivery by registering Food PedalAlex Ward, a local bicycle-based service owned and operated. Recently celebrating eight years of business, Food Pedaler has grown its team over the years to include around 10 cyclists providing lunch and dinner to residents in their delivery zone; Ultimately, Ward said, he wanted to expand their reach to include Tower Grove and Loop, meaning that the residents of South City might be able to get that coveted late night. Gramophone sandwiches without ever leaving the house.
With the influx of shipments over the past year, Food Pedalers have been in a prime position to take on some additional business. “We lost a few restaurants due to the pandemic, but we’ve added quite a few, and a few that are St. Petersburg’s staple food. Louis, like Juniper, Salt + Smoke and Edera (Italian Restaurant), ”Said Ward. “I am proud that we have survived and we are fine.” Some of their other biggest clients include Deli pickles, Crazy Donkey, Razor, Rosalita’s Cantina and Pie Guy Pizza; for their recent anniversary, they offer menu collaboration with places like Hello Juices and Smoothies and Cup.
Food Pedaler is run through an application where customers can order from the restaurant of their choice; and although the service aims to keep things local and sustainable, it charges fees just like any other delivery app. Ward understands that for some restaurants, such a fee puts his service out of reach, but he tries to make it as easy as possible, offering discounts for restaurant members. GiftAMeal and Green Dining Alliance. “We want to work with any restaurant we can work with, and we definitely don’t want to cut their profit margins. We are looking for ways to ensure they grow from our partnership, ”he said.
Undoubtedly, the pandemic has troubled local restaurants. Forced into new service modes such as deployment and delivery, businesses should consider losing control and revenue over the time and resources demanded by doing it themselves. All of these options have pros and cons, but the most important thing is that, despite the pandemic that has changed the status quo, restaurants and their communities are helping each other to stay afloat. Regardless of how diners get their food, the fact that they still show up at their favorite spots is a big deal and helps most industries survive. Even so, keeping things local doesn’t seem like a bad idea.