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Stand and deliver

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Stand and deliver

Let’s talk about uberEATS and Deliveroo. I just can’t work out if they are a good thing or not. On the one hand they are proving to be a lifeline for lots of restaurants during the pandemic, but long term? I’m not so sure.

I admit I’ve been slow to recognise their dominance, mainly because until recently I never used them. It’s partly because for me the pleasure of eating restaurant food is in the going out, but also because a takeaway is always a disappointment.

Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, and yet we all know that within ten minutes of the door bell ringing, we’ll be surveying a table of greasy, half-finished containers and fighting feelings of self-loathing. Or is that just me?

It’s a lesson my teenage children have yet to learn. Boy, do they love a takeaway. What worries me, though, is their loyalty seems to be with the delivery company, not the restaurant. They clamour not for “a curry” or “a pizza” but for a “Deliveroo” or “UberEATS”. How did these tech platforms pull off that trick of being the selling point without so much as flipping a single burger?

I think that’s going to be a problem. As more and more restaurants succumb to the tech giants’ lure, giving up around 30 per of their takings in exchange for a precious listing on their platforms, they’ll find their identities subsumed and  their margins increasingly squeezed.

My fear is that just as Amazon and the like are hollowing out retail sites on our high streets, so the food delivery companies might start to do the same to our restaurants, forcing them all into cheaper “dark kitchens” on industrial estates.

That’s why when I give in and order a takeaway, I insist we ring the chosen restaurant and make the order direct. God, do my children hate me for it, but I’d rather more of my money went to the nice Italian family that run our local pizzeria than a faceless tech giant.

 I can’t help feeling that if I feel that way, a lot of others do too. Perhaps there’s PR mileage in emphasising your client’s independence. There’s a great restaurant near me in West Hampstead called Ham which goes its own way, offering pick-up and local delivery on Fridays and Saturdays. You can get 3 courses for two plus a bottle of wine for £60, which is better value than anything you’ll find on your phone. And not a half-finished greasy container in sight.

What Tony Thinks…

Love ethical chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely (and not just for it’s excellent name) and I thought this Look-alike campaign was an imaginative way of addressing illegal child labour in the industry.  Can’t for the life of me work out what the dark brown bar is based on though. Any suggestions?

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