As a restaurateur, I want to let you in on a secret: Just because my restaurant menus appear on websites like Grubhub, DoorDash, and Postmates doesn’t mean we’re affiliated with those services. And that’s something that should worry you.
If you pull up Khyber Pass Pub right now on Grubhub, the menu that is reflected online is at least 50% inaccurate and offers items that we no longer carry, or do not offer for carryout because of their limited quantity. The pricing is also inaccurate and pulled from a menu at least three years old.
If the Grubhub customer has a craving for, and orders, the smoked cashew and duck sandwich, it is safe to assume the consumer will expect that sandwich. However, we, as operators, are not partners with Grubhub, and I have no way of communicating with the consumer to inform them that that sandwich is no longer available. And, even if Grubhub does, in fact, inform the guest of that fact, the guest is still disappointed because they are expecting something that was never available in the first place.
This is bad news for everyone: As restaurant employees, we don’t want to put our customers at risk — of disappointment or something worse — by sending them something they didn’t want.
For the restaurants I work with, we’ve chosen Caviar as our official delivery partner because we vetted their standards
and we are confident that they will protect the integrity of our food. We only offer meals that transport well, and strategically chose Caviar as a company because of their commitment to guests’ satisfaction — ultimately, we want consumers to be happy.
Our Caviar partnership is intentional. Caviar executes a photoshoot that reflects the exact menu a customer may order from and also provides menu descriptions. Our online ordering menu differs from our dine-in menu for a few reasons. Not all items on our menu will travel well, some better than others, and ultimately we want the customer to enjoy their meal. Some items on our regular menu are prepared in very limited quantities and therefore not offered “to-go.” We specifically worked with Caviar to decide what food will travel best and what containers or vessels work best. If the container falls apart because delivery takes an hour, the customer is not upset with the delivery service; they end up being upset with the restaurant.
We have no idea if delivery services that are not chosen by us are “serve-safe certified” or have experience in food handling. Nor what they do (or don’t do) to control food temperatures.
As a business operator, I have a relationship with where I can control the guest experience. If there’s no relationship, the guest has no guarantee that the pricing is correct, that the food will be available, and that it will be delivered in the way they and we are expecting.
It’s incredibly time-consuming as a small-business operator to try to remove your menus from these unauthorized delivery service websites.
At Triangle Tavern, up to 20% of food sales are purchased through Caviar. It is successful because there are not a lot of quality vegan delivery offerings.
The delivery apps are an incredibly useful tool if handled properly, but the relationship needs to be legitimate. The unauthorized use of our menus on these delivery apps and websites takes the power away from restaurateurs to do our job, misrepresents us, and can lead to poor guest experiences.
At Royal Boucherie, for example, we are just not set up for delivery; our to-go containers are not designed for hot food off the line, and the cardboard packages are for leftovers, not a steak au poivre with a steaming hot sauce — which is the way the dish should be enjoyed.
To protect themselves, consumers should always go to the restaurant’s website to confirm their chosen operator that will care about the end product tasting good and ensure a positive experience for both the restaurant and the hungry customer.
Suzanne O’Brien is the CEO and director of development for Royal Boucherie, Royal Tavern, Royal Izakaya, Triangle Tavern, Khyber Pass Pub, Cantina Dos Segundos, and Cantina Los Caballitos.