This article is part of Technology newsletter. You can register here to receive it during the week.

For many people – and restaurants – food delivery was a lifeline when in-person meals felt too risky or were closed during the pandemic. This habit seems to be here to stay, and now everyone involved is trying to figure out how to make the delivery business work for them.

My colleague Kate conger wrote on Friday on the resilience of food delivery as the coronavirus pandemic eases in the United States. She explained to me how restaurants and app companies like Uber Eats and DoorDash are reinventing post-pandemic home delivery and handling complaints, including the fees and complexities that go with it. poor quality restaurants and some the guests.

Shira: Many restaurants in the United States say people are pack their dining rooms again and that restaurant delivery orders have not declined significantly from pandemic levels. How can both happen?

Kate: It is clear that many people have found these delivery apps useful during the pandemic and are ready to continue using them even if it does. costs them more. I’m hesitant to predict if pandemic behavior will persist forever, but I think the DoorDash executive I interviewed is probably right: it’s often difficult for people to back down from activities they find practical. .

What do restaurants think about the possibility of delivery apps becoming an integral part of their business?

It’s a mix. There are people like May Seto, a restaurant owner who redesigned her catering kitchen to make pizzas that customers can order only take out or through delivery apps. She thinks delivery is here to stay, and she is changing her business to make it fit. Other restaurateurs are eager to recall the delivery because they blame the costs and inconvenience.

And there are people in the restaurant industry who are in the middle. They think delivery can be lucrative and important, but some of them are pushing for changes to make app services more sustainable for them, like limits on the fees charged by app companies.

Have delivery app companies addressed any of these concerns?

In some cases, yes, and politicians have stepped in to force change as well. DoorDash now donates to restaurants more fee options. Instead of taking up to about 30 percent of a restaurant’s sales, the restaurant can pay 15 percent just for delivery and then pay more for extras like appearing higher in app search results.

San Francisco put a permanent fee cap that delivery apps can charge restaurants, and that other cities have imposed temporary limits during the pandemic. Some restaurateurs worry that the math won’t work for them if these fees return to previous levels.

There are restaurateurs, delivery people and diners who have big complaints about food delivery apps. And application companies are still mostly unprofitable. Do you see this as temporary issues or is there something fundamentally broken with the food delivery?

These are the growing pains and also the convenience tradeoffs. Job seekers may find the aspects of the delivery job unattractive, but it’s also a position they can register for quite easily and get started right away. Diners may not like that a delivered meal is not as fresh as it would get in a restaurant and costs more, but it’s a trade-off that many are willing to make to put food on the table. Over the past year, many restaurants have been in need of delivery when their restaurant business has dwindled, even though there were things they didn’t like.

Can restaurants be an attractive place for in-person meals, even when preparing meals for delivery? Grocery stores are struggling with this double duty.

Its not always easy. The ability to do both delivery and dinner well depends somewhat on the physical space of a restaurant. For restaurants with small dining areas, it can be confusing to have a delivery courier come through the door every few minutes in the space where people are eating. But I’ve also spoken to restaurants that have more room and can dedicate a counter for delivery orders and also have enough parking up front for in-person customers and couriers.

Why DoorDash and Uber are growing deliver all kinds of things like groceries, alcohol and convenience store items? Is it an admission that it is difficult to make food delivery profitable or sustainable?

It’s a good question. The restaurant industry does not have high profit margins. This does not leave much room for maneuver when the money for a meal order is split between a restaurant, a delivery courier, and the app company.

Providing more types of products can amortize application companies if customers move away from restaurant delivery. And it’s also a way of trying to generate more expensive orders. If you order dinner from DoorDash and add some 7-Eleven items, you spend more and everyone involved has more potential to make a profit.

If you haven’t already received this newsletter in your inbox, please register here.


  • An unusual turnover at Amazon: On Monday, Jeff Bezos will officially step down as CEO of Amazon. My colleague Karen Weise writes that the company has experienced an exodus of senior executives in the past 18 months. Perhaps this is what happens when companies like Amazon and Google to become so big and so rich?

    More reading: Check out Karen and Dai Wakabayashi’s February article about the next Amazon CEO, Andy Jassy.

  • I will never look at gift cards the same again: A Microsoft engineer discovered a software issue that allowed him to steal Xbox gift cards worth over $ 10 million. He then traded them for Bitcoin and lived a life of luxury on money. Bloomberg News explains all of the caper and how it got caught.

  • Don’t curse your headphones: If you own wireless headphones, you might have been frustrated when they don’t connect properly to your computer or other gadgets. Lauren Dragan of Wirecutter, the New York Times product recommendation site, explains why and how to tackle the problem.

It’s Friday. It’s almost a holiday weekend. Have fun Muffin enthusiastically paddling the dog (or puppy).


We want to hear from you. Let us know what you think of this newsletter and what else you would like us to explore. You can reach us at ontech@nytimes.com.

If you haven’t already received this newsletter in your inbox, please register here. You can also read past columns on technology.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here