Huge Restaurant Tip: Order Direct. Then Pick It Up!

When COVID struck, Westporters rushed to support their favorite restaurants.

Owners who already had an online ordering/takeout presence heated up their efforts. Those that did not quickly cooked one up.

The ability to pick up a meal curbside — or have one delivered to your home — helped many restaurants survive.

It’s easy to pick up an order at Jeera Thai, or have it delivered. But behind that convenience, there’s a surprising story.

But most customers have no idea how much the service costs those same restaurants they think they’re supporting.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce wants us to know that 3rd-party apps, and delivery services like Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub, feast on restaurateurs’ bottom lines.

Those platforms charge fees up to 30% to the restaurant for delivery — and up to 25% for an order that, amazingly, a customer picks up herself.

Viva Zapata co-owner Bob O’Mahoney says, “those fees are our profit margins.”

Viva Zapata has been around for over 50 years. To survive the pandemic, it needs diners’ help.

The Chamber wants to help. They’re launching an initiative called “Order Direct — Pick It Up.”

The idea is simple: Use a restaurant’s own website or app to make a takeout order online. Or just call by phone, then pick it up.

“This simple adjustment will put those excessive fees back in the pocket of our local friends and businesspeople,” says Chamber director Matthew Mandell.

Restaurant owners understand that delivery is important to some people. Pane e Bene owner Angelo Capponi notes, “70% is better than 0%. But we also offer takeout, and we hope people will come to us. They can just call us up.”

It’s easy to have Uber Eats on your first smartphone screen, or speed dial. But it’s just a step or two more to Google a website, then click on your order. Or press “call.”

If you love a restaurant enough to support it with takeout, take those few seconds to cut out the 25 to 30% fee they toss away, as they toss your salad.

As the Chamber of Commerce says: Order Direct. Pick It Up!

(Graphic courtesy of Miggs Burroughs)

13 responses to “Huge Restaurant Tip: Order Direct. Then Pick It Up!

  1. The reason I order from those apps instead of directly from the restaurant is because those apps offer a discounted promotion/price/deal. If the restaurants did that I would gladly switch.

  2. I can’t speak for Westport, but in New York many of the Direct Websites offer significantly lower prices on the menu that make up for almost any discount offered by 3rd parties.

  3. Ciara Webster

    I never looked into what their fee was and that is appallingly high. I’m surprised. No wonder a few restaurants used be on those platforms and gave it up.

    I will be deleting it from my phone as of today.

    I probably cannot stop my kids from using it but will actively discourage.
    It’s a terrible service anyway. The drivers have multiple deliveries to make and it takes an hour longer than if you pick it up yourself. Sometimes the food gets delivered to the wrong house such as my experience recently.
    Food arrives late, cold, and defeats the purpose entirely.
    I’m glad you drew attention to this as I’m sure many like me are unaware of such extortionate fees.

    I believe traffic has become a huge driver in the use of these sites.
    This especially applies to the Saugatuck to bar taco area of town. Now if we can get that improved, and running out to grab a takeout took the few minutes it used take I believe many people would go back to picking it up the old fashioned way.

    But meantime I for one am deleting these apps, and will start picking up my food and making sure 100% of the meal cost goes to the restaurant. Uber eats, door dash etc are to restaurants what Amazon is to retailers. Slowly killing them.

    Shop locally, dine locally and pick it up.
    If our community really focused on this effort it would do wonders for our town.

  4. We have always picked up. When given a choice, I prefer to order directly. There have been times ( I think when the restaurant is busy) you can only order on line. Are they going to do away with that?

  5. Gracine Bueti

    Thank you Woog for posting this! It’s so important to find ways to support our town and the people in it (and in this case with such little effort!)

  6. Frannie Southworth

    Thanks Dan for bringing this to our attention. Your blog is invaluable to our community.

  7. Diana B Pils Marino

    I’m not up on technology that much. I use Uber cabs when I travel but I ALWAYS order direct then pick it up. I told restaurant employees since the waiters & bartenders aren’t making money have them answer the phone to take orders & drive a delivery car. I look for delivery vehicles at restaurants when I go and I ASK the driver if they work for the restaurants or one of the apps. If they say restaurant then I start using those restaurants more. For elderly or shut ins .. I understand why they might need the delivery services.

  8. Related to Evan Stein’s comment, I’ve been able to confirm the price differences (restaurant’s site is cheaper than what’s shown on these services) with two restaurants in town. Smart for the restaurants to do it to preserve a profit- but all should be aware that ultimately the delivery services are getting well paid. Pick up where you can and support our local businesses!

    • Absolutely Todd,
      We do not need an Amazon type monopoly owning us.our restaurants are where we make friends, go on date nights and forge community.
      If we let Uber eats and door dash ( horrible service) own that then we have failed the folks who have slaved for years to bring us our cheer… viva Zapata in particular, a huge piece of Westport history. And somewhere my adult kids are embracing because why wouldn’t you.. it’s fun and great.
      I hope we all make a conscious effort to support local by picking up… we do not need Uber ears.

  9. Paul R Lowenstein

    It is worth noting that (especially if one is not familiar with these food apps/websites) if you order by phone, PLEASE be sure you are not calling the food app number, which redirects you to grubhub even though the Grubhub page is showing the restaurant from which one wants to order. For example, it appears that grubhub owns CT-based phone numbers beginning with 475 (I did not know that was a new CT code) and even Long Island’s 631. Based on *very* quick research it looks like grubhub has a dedicated phone number for each restaurant in their system. From a business perspective I understand why, but that’s nuts! I was not aware of the extent that Grubhub goes as far as phone numbers. I checked UberEats and DoorDash but I didn’t see any phone #s listed for a variety of restaurants, so maybe just Grubhub does this? The below places all have 203 area codes, which is not what we see on their grubhub sites. I do not know if grubhub still takes a commission if you call the grubhub # and pick up, but I would imagine they do.

  10. Excellent article! Another option to support small local business: NKG
    Kitchen, 1891 Post Road, Suite A, Fairfield, about a mile from Westport, across from Rawley’s & DQ. Nikki Generoso sends email to her clients every Wednesday with about 5 items. Orders (on line) must be sent in by Friday 10 am for pickup following Tuesday afternoon. She is an excellent chef…cooks nutritious meals/whole grains/lots of veggies., etc. Check her website if you are interested. Phone Number: 203-984-3615. My friends & neighbors pick up for each other. Nikki first learned to cook from her Italian grandmother. She rents space with commercial grade kitchen and trained at
    culinary school. Enjoy! Mary Condon, Southport

  11. What a smart idea. I never realized how big a chunk those delivery services take from our precious local restaurants. I won’t use them again. I’ll pick up!

  12. Me too Arlene.