Raleigh restaurant pulls plug on GrubHub saying the service is too costly for business owners

Elaina Athans Image
Thursday, April 23, 2020
High commissions lead Raleigh restaurant to pull plug on Grubhub
The owner of Oak City Meatball is now slipping a card inside every to-go order that pleads with customers to call the Raleigh store directly on any future orders.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The owner of Oak City Meatball is now slipping a card inside every to-go order that heads out the door and into the car of a third-party delivery driver.

The card pleads with customers to call the Raleigh store directly on any future orders.

Owner Ken Yowell said the service is costly for two of the three parties involved.

"30 percent is what the services take on top of whatever service fees and delivery fees they're charging you," he said.

The commission isn't the only issue Yowell has right now.

The restaurateur said he's been hounding Grubhub for a payment of more than $3,000 for most of April when the money should have been deposited on the 1st.

"We started with them in March and have yet to see a payment," he said. "When we get done here today, I will be getting on the phone trying to find out where our money from Grubhub is so we can try to make payroll this week."


Other small businesses are also fed-up with the fees.

Neomonde recently ditched one delivery service.

Operations Director Ennio Di Ninno said the partnership just isn't worth it for his business or consumers.

LIST: Triangle restaurants offer takeout, delivery as people practice social distancing to stop coronavirus spread

"Why are we going to even spend 30 percent on anything right now? We don't have the ability to do that." He said. "You're ordering a salad and that salad's coming to you for $20 and that's not what we want. We want to be value-driven."

ABC11 reached out to a couple of companies to see about commissions, especially right now when restaurants are already hurting.

"We waived the delivery fee for customers on orders from independent restaurants to help drive them business during this difficult time," an Uber Eats spokesperson said.

The company addressed a waiver for customers but didn't say if there was any relief for restaurants.

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"As soon as the pandemic began impacting restaurant operations more than a month ago, we offered a temporary marketing commission rate deferral for independent restaurants. We did this to give restaurants immediate cash flow relief," said Grubhub spokesperson Katie Norris.

The company also said it created a Grubhub Community Relief Fund.

"All contributions through our Donate the Change program - amounting to more than $1 million per month on average - go to charitable organizations that support restaurants and drivers," said Norris.

Yowell argues there still isn't direct relief.

"Every time they're sending out one of these heartfelt emails saying that they're waived some fee or deferred some commission, they've just deferred it. They will get that from the restaurant," he said.

After ABC11 inquired with Grubhub about Yowell's payment, the company says the money has been deposited.

Yowell confirms he received a check.

So the takeaway here -- if you want to eat out and support one of your favorite spots, consider curbside pick-up or call the place to see if they're doing deliveries themselves. You want to make sure whatever you spend stays with the small business.