The strain on the restaurant industry continues to be one of the most pronounced effects of the Coronavirus in the country. Ever since Governor Cuomo’s initial decision in late March 2020 to close all New York restaurants, limiting them to take out and delivery only, many restaurants have struggled to stay afloat.
For restaurant owners, dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic has been a difficult transition. Many restaurants have had to close permanently, and even those that will remain open are forced to make changes that greatly affect their traditional style of operation and threaten their business and income.
“My parents run a standard Chinese takeout named Great Wall. It is located in the Bronx. My parents come from dine-in restaurant backgrounds, where the personal connection with a customer is so, so important to developing customer loyalty. We try our best to get to know each customer, or at the very least, to have conversations with them. That is nearly impossible now. We can’t even smile at the customer because they won’t see it under our masks,” said Chritina Gao ’21.
To deal with these changes, many restaurants throughout the city have adopted new methods for takeout and delivery in order to continue to provide easy access for customers. A method that is becoming increasingly common in the light of the Coronavirus pandemic are delivery services like Grubhub, UberEats, and Postmates. In recent reports, GrubHub’s revenue has been experiencing record growth with orders increasing by over twenty percent from last year.
In many cases, these services allow plenty of small restaurants to stay open during the pandemic and even provide new customers. For Tidal Tea in West Harlem, using Grubhub and Ubereats has helped the business to remain open and tp serve the community. “We used to rely on students in nearby schools for our regular sales, but now the customers are a lot of locals. A lot of business comes from the delivery apps, so they have been really effective for us,” said Ethan Chen ’20.
However, Grubhub and other popular delivery services have recently found themselves under harsh criticism. When restaurants choose to use food delivery apps, there is a high delivery charge for the owners. Due to the difficult circumstances of the Coronavirus pandemic, some restaurant owners have expressed that these charges make using the services unprofitable.
While the Great Wall restaurant remains open for takeout and delivery, no delivery services are used. “UberEats, a platform that my parents considered using, takes 30% of the price that the customers are charged, leaving my parents with 70% of the money. This is not helpful at all, as it puts us at a loss,” said Gao.
As a result of these concerns, Mayor Bill DeBlasio has limited the fees that are charged to restaurants from services like Grubhub and UberEats to a maximum of 20 percent, with only 15 percent for delivery charges. These laws will take effect on June 2, 2020, and last for the remaining period of the restaurant closures in New York City due to the pandemic. DeBlasio’s fee limitation has the potential to help restaurants to keep up their business by increasing their profits off of these burgeoning services. With these changes in mind, everyone should continue to support their favorite restaurants during this crucial time.
“We can’t even smile at the customer because they won’t see it under our masks,” said Chritina Gao ’21.