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Vancouver restaurants keep it in house to deliver to your house

Small businesses are sidestepping big fees and opting to run their own delivery operations
Iori Kataoka, owner of Yuwa Japanese Cuisine in Vancouver. Photo courtesy Yuwa

Over the last few years, we've become accustomed to having a number of options for getting food delivered to our doors. Alongside the long-familiar logos of multi-national pizza franchises, we now have a half dozen or more apps at our fingertips for third-party carriers who will drive, scooter, or bike our noodles, burgers, and even brunches right to our doorsteps.

But there has been quite a bit of backlash of late around those apps, including prominent ones in the Vancouver market like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Skip The Dishes, for the percentage of commission they take from participating restaurants. Those delivery companies can take up to 30 per cent commission, said Mark von Schellwitz, a vice-president of the non-profit Restaurants Canada.

Recently, Chicago-based delivery service GrubHub came under fire when an account statement from a pizza restaurant showing the pizza place only kept $376.54 out of $1,042.63 in orders from the service. While GrubHub doesn't operate in Vancouver, their peers are experiencing an uptick in popularity locally.

Restaurants across Vancouver are reporting an unprecedented surge in delivery customers, with some saying the service now represents anywhere from 60 to 80 per cent of their revenue under B.C.'s current COVID-19-related dine-in restrictions. 

By mid-April, both DoorDash and Skip The Dishes had implemented reduced fees for member restaurants, with DoorDash slashing fees on the customer end for use of the service. Uber, however, said their Uber Eats platform was supporting restaurants in a sustainable manner by waiving delivery fees for customers, thereby generating more orders. It said commission fees help cover operating costs and to reduce them would make it difficult to maintain a safe and reliable platform.

Some Vancouver restaurants, however, have opted to take on doing direct delivery on their own and are sidestepping the third parties.

Nuba, the popular Lebanese eatery with four Vancouver locations, has been doing their own local deliveries for several weeks. They explain that there is an increased safety element for customers, because their drivers only pick up from Nuba, which limits their exposure. Additionally, "all your money stays in the local economy," says the restaurant.

Similarly, the small but sweet operation Soirette has been offering contactless delivery service for free or up to $15 based on location. You'll also find in-house delivery available from places like Gastown's DiBeppe and South Granville's The Rise Eatery. Café and to-go spot Dalina is also doing delivery, and has also expanded their offerings to tailor them to families and the at-home experience, putting things like Date Night and Movie Night bundles together in addition to meal and cocktail kits.

eternal-abundance-deliveryVegan cafe and grocer Eternal Abundance has taken on in-house delivery. Photo: Eternal Abundance/Facebook

The at-home customer is also benefiting from many local restaurants putting an emphasis on pantry goods, heat-and-serve or frozen meals, and grocery items, and some of those businesses are also doing the delivery themselves. Eternal Abundance, a vegan café and grocer, has produce boxes they are delivering themselves to customers, and home cooks and bakers have been delighting in deliveries direct from Flourist, home to traceable grains, beans, and fresh milled flour. 

New Westminster's Kozak Ukrainian Eatery, which recently launched their expansive Vancouver location, is behind the wheel, bringing their hearty soups, platters, baked goods, packaged foods, and meal bundles direct to doorsteps across Metro Vancouver.

For Iori Kataoka, owner of Yuwa Japanese Cuisine, doing delivery has proven to have some powerful benefits, especially when "Raincouver" swaps in the sunshine.

"The financial reason is one thing, but it is also a great way to keep in touch with our regulars," explains Kataoka. "At the restaurant, we strive to provide consummate service, and that extends to our personal service for delivery. If you have a car and manpower, I highly recommend it. And in this gorgeous weather? I personally have no complaints at all about driving around."

With additional reporting from The Canadian Press and Business In Vancouver