'Parasites': Restaurants ask customers to shun services like Uber Eats
Restaurants in Australia's biggest cities have started speaking out against food delivery services such as Uber Eats and Menulog, claiming the third-party operators are exploiting small businesses and delivery drivers.
On Tuesday, iconic Melbourne eatery Marios Cafe called the food delivery platforms "parasites", imploring customers to never use ordering systems like Uber Eats. In Sydney, Upper North Shore restaurant Taste of Texas BBQ stopped accepting delivery requests via Menulog.
The moves come days after delivery service Foodora signalled it was exiting the Australian market.
‘A certain ugliness’: Delivery platforms like UberEats are getting pushback from local restaurants.
Marios Cafe, a stalwart of Melbourne's Brunswick Street Fitzroy since the 1980s, took to Facebook to plead with customers to "get up off your ass" and go pick up takeaway orders instead of relying on third-party sites, which hurt small hospitality venues.
The business said the tendency for these platforms to take commissions of up to 30 per cent wasn’t fair given the number of people – including restaurants and delivery drivers – losing money.
"Do not order from any of the delivery groups call the restaurant direct and make sure they have their own delivery," the business wrote on Facebook.
"Please spare a thought for the people who are loosing [sic] money for your comfort factor and the delivery people are earning next to nothing for their work, while the people in their ivory towers are earning big time for doing nothing: PARASITES."
Marios co-founder Mario Maccarone told Fairfax Media that while he thinks food delivery services may work "brilliantly" for some businesses, he and business partner Mario de Pasquale have never bought in.
Mario de Pasquale and Mario Maccarone have decided to steer clear of food delivery platforms – and are asking customers to do the same.
"We’ve been approached by all of the platforms – but with those huge big plastic backpacks, well, there’s a certain ugliness about it," Maccarone says.
He says "the way they [the platforms] employ people" also has to be considered, observing there’s a "whole generation of kids" becoming more reliant on gig economy jobs.
"It’s a thing that may work brilliantly for some, but we’re not interested in buying into it."
When contacted by Fairfax Media, an Uber Eats spokesperson said the company’s 13,000 active restaurant users were evidence its system was "proving popular" with hospitality venues wanting to grow their businesses.
"Uber Eats can be a cost-effective channel for reaching an entirely new customer base," the company said.
Marios isn’t the only one saying the time has come for a tough choice on food delivery services. In Sydney, Waitara-based Taste of Texas BBQ has decided to no longer accept delivery requests via Menulog.
Owner Prabhakar Raj told Fairfax Media "the big challenge for small businesses" at the moment was making tough choices about the food delivery platforms they can afford.
Menulog takes a lower commission on orders than its peer in Uber Eats, and while it has recently launched a in-house delivery option, restaurants have traditionally had to supply their own drivers.
This is a cost that is "unsustainable" despite the loyalty of customers ordering through the app, Raj says.
Customers of Taste of Texas BBQ will still be able to place takeaway orders through Menulog if they pick it up themselves, but the business says it's done offering delivery through the app.
The business will stay on the Uber Eats platform, but Raj says his restaurant "doesn’t make a cent out of it".
"I’m only using it [Uber Eats] as a promotional platform," he said.
Taste of Texas only offers a restricted menu via the platform and Raj says he believes other businesses are also limiting what they offer via Uber Eats in order to make it sustainable.
Menulog says that, for the most part, restaurants are very happy with its service, and restaurants like Taste of Texas can choose whether they offer delivery through the platform or just pick-up orders.
"Menulog offers a suite of solutions, including both restaurant-own and delivery services, ‘click and collect’ and catering, which allows restaurants to tailor their offering to digital customers in line with their business strategy and operating model," the company's commercial director Rory Murphy told Fairfax Media.
Last week, delivery competitor Foodora signalled it was exiting the Australian market, a move small businesses said was unsurprising.
"At the end of the day these aggregators all take a percentage so the fewer you have, the better it is for your business," owner of Sydney business Fratelli and Co, Robert Galati, said on Friday.
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