Roger Yang says 3rd-party companies are “exploitative both to the restaurants and to the workers”

Roger Yang, owner of Toronto’s Pizzeria Du, wants to build an alternative to the delivery app services that he says are gouging restaurateurs. He has become so frustrated with the high costs and poor service from these companies, he says, that he’s teaming up with other local restaurants to run their own delivery system.

Yang says apps like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and SkipTheDishes take a huge bite out of restaurants’ bottom lines and offer little in return.

These companies charge restaurants service and delivery fees of up to 30 per cent for each meal, on top of the fees they charge directly to customers.

Like many other restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pizzeria Du first started using Uber Eats this year to keep up with the demand for delivery, but Yang says he’s gotten very little bang for his buck.

“Delivery was already becoming a bigger thing and the pandemic kind of accelerated that and it made it blindingly obvious that delivery is super important,” said Yang.”In the long term, we’re still going to do a lot of delivery and we’ll need to have solutions that make it work for the restaurants. Otherwise, we risk a slow death.”

“We were just handing our customers over to Uber”

“We expected that they would help with marketing and they would help us get new customers. But what we found was that we were just handing our customers over to Uber,” he said.

Recently, Pizzeria Du began offering in-house curbside delivery with a hired driver and cyclist, both of whom will receive insurance and hourly salaries.

Yang says he’s in talks with several other local restaurants to pool their resources, hire more delivery drivers and split the costs.

“The challenge with a small business doing our own delivery is that we don’t have enough scale to really do it really efficiently,” he said.

The plan is for the business to be run like a co-operative.

“We’ve got a number of other restaurants that have strong interests,” he said. “Everyone who uses the delivery apps complains about them.”

With restaurant-employed staff, Yang says customers will also benefit from a more personalized service.

“I’ve been doing some of the deliveries myself, and I find that just having that quick hello, even though we’re keeping our distance, the customers appreciate it so much,” he said.

Yang is not alone in wanted to upend the current system of third-party delivery companies. Alternatives like Yang’s are springing up all over the country as restaurants seek to recover pandemic losses and stop paying out to companies that are often seen to exploit both their own workers and the restaurants they partner with.

Story by CBC As It Happens, originally published HERE