Creative Director Rick Daugherty and I were in the beautiful city of New Orleans for a couple of days visiting pizzerias. After a quick stop for a requisite Po’ Boy, we summoned an Uber to get us from one pizza shop interview to the next. The driver conversed with us about a number of things en route, but he became visibly and audibly animated when the subject of Uber Eats popped up.
“Oh man, you got that where you live yet?” he asked. “I hope so. If not, y’all gotta look into it. It’s fire, man.”
Fire, wow. That’s high hipster praise. Rick and I exchanged knowing glances.
“We should do a story on that,” Rick quipped. I chuckled because not only had we taken a look at third-party delivery many years ago, but we were set to revisit it now thanks to the oncoming explosion of options such as the aforementioned Uber Eats.
“I love it,” our driver continued. “I just get a notification telling me what restaurant to pick up at and what address to deliver it to. I just park outside the restaurant, walk in and pick up the order.”
I asked him if his company required any food-handling and safety training.
“Nope,” he said. “We don’t touch the food or nothing like that. It’s already packaged up and ready to go when we pick it up. We just put it in these bags (he showed me a heat-retaining delivery bag he kept in his vehicle) and deliver them. Nothing to it. It’s great.”
Rick asked about the demand for the service.
“Are you kidding me?” he asked. “It’s New Orleans. We’re a food town, man. It’s gonna get big here. Real big.”
A year ago, in our February 2016 issue, Tony Gemignani asked this question in his Respecting the Craft column: “Is third-party delivery the way to go?” He called it the “future for pizza delivery” and predicted that one day “our industry will not have delivery drivers who are directly employed by our restaurants.”
Tony, who has utilized third-party delivery companies, says there are still kinks in the system that need worked out. But his experience tells him that the gains have been massive since the early days. And he sees no reason why that trend won’t continue until we see third-party delivery take over nationwide on a large scale.
Is it right for your pizzeria right now? Is it, as my Uber driver in New Orleans suggested, “fire”? Are there benefits to jumping into the fray early, or would your restaurant be better served by waiting a while?
These are questions only you can answer based on your intimate knowledge of your customers and your respective market. If this is all new to you, Denise Greer’s article on page 30 will get your (delivery) wheels turning.
Jeremy White, Editor-in-chief