Give it 34 minutes (or less), and UberEats will bring you a sumptuous dinner. Or a snack. Or something in between. Presuming that you live within the core Philadelphia metro zone where the food-delivery service launches at 7 a.m. Wednesday and can work through the smartphone and tablet-based app that offers menu options and ordering commands.
More than 100 local food-makers are partnering on Day One with this Uber ride spin-off, from Starr Restaurants faves El Vez, Pod, Jones, and Buddakan to Philly Pretzel Factory, for that nosh in time that'll save nine.
Feeling the midnight grumbles? The operation will happily bring food to your door "24x7," said UberEats Philly general manager Casey Verkamp, presuming your food purveyor of interest is still on the job. (The app makes it clear what's open and what's not.)
"And, for a limited time, to introduce ourselves, we're offering the service for free, with no hidden charges," Verkamp said - a dig at one competitor that claims "free delivery" but packs on service fees.
Relaunched under the UberEats name in December and already claiming a global footprint, the service is entering a lively food-delivery space. GrubHub (the national biggie with 7.4 million active diners), Caviar, and Postmates also serve up a wide variety of eats on demand to Philly chowhounds, the first two in active partnership with purveyors, and Postmates as an indie shopping service that also delivers nail polish and cough medicine.
Some of the rivals are putting on a happy face.
"We love to see continued interest in the space," said GrubHub spokeswoman Sandra Glading. "It helps to drive innovation, particularly in dynamic food markets like Philadelphia."
To manage the rollout efficiently with partner purveyors, UberEats' initial Philly coverage map will run east to the Delaware River and west to Overbrook, north to the neighborhoods of the Lower Northeast, and south to Philadelphia International Airport.
Company reps suggest that the growth potential in bringing home the bacon is enormous. And suburban operators such as Main Line Delivery (which declined to comment about the competition) could soon be feeling the heat.
Even without the new rival hitting town, the Menu123 food-delivery service in Blue Bell announced Tuesday on Facebook that it was closing its business.
For muscle power, UberEats starts with a potential delivery team of 12,000 drivers now working the eight-county Philadelphia region as UberX people-movers and likely willing to shuttle sushi and nicoise salads, as well. (Upscale UberBlack limo and SUV drivers will not be asked to smell up their rides with garlicky Chinese and Italian dishes.)
UberEats' active zone is already so densely populated with cars that a driver pinged with a "Can you handle this pickup/delivery?" will need to jump on the case "in 15 seconds or less," said communications exec Craig Ewer, or the gig goes to another.
The pool of potential delivery guys could even grow larger, "since you don't need a four-door car to pick up food," Ewer said. "We'll even open this up to bike messengers."
First-time users need to load a newly activated UberEats app. But the same sign-in, password, home address, and credit-card information that 500,000 area residents have already stored for Uber rides will work just fine here.
"It's a great list of names to push promotions to," noted Starr Restaurants' director of creative services, Randi Sirkin.
Just as the Uber car app keeps users in the loop, UberEats sends updates when an order has been accepted by the restaurant, then again when it's cooked and picked up, with an updated estimate time of arrival.
"Their key pitch to us was picking up the food as quickly as possible to get it to the customer as hot as possible," said Starr Restaurants' founder and CEO, Stephen Starr. "They told us if we can cook it in 10 minutes, they'll be there to pick it up in 10 minutes."
For a limited-menu fast-food vendor such as Philly Pretzel Factory, "which is always baking," the turnaround could be even quicker.
"You could have your order delivered piping hot just 10 minutes after you place it," said PPF marketing manager Adam Terranova.