Grubhub has offered back-end technology services for several years, but mainly to large restaurant chains. DoorDash already offers a similar service to restaurants.
“We’re constantly listening and learning from our independent restaurant partners, and we’ve heard them. Restaurants want more options to build their brands online and maintain a loyal base of diners through their own channels,” Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney said in a statement.
Restaurants have long bristled at losing regular customers to mobile apps such as Grubhub, which then keep the data on those diners. Services such as Grubhub were marketed to restaurants as ways to reach new customers. But as those apps grew, existing customers began ordering on them, as well.
“It’s nothing special,” Dan Raskin, co-owner of Manny’s Deli in the South Loop, says of the new offering from Grubhub. “This is offered by many companies at reasonable fees. When our diners order on Grubhub, they’re still getting all my data.”
Losing commissions from restaurants that opt for monthly subscription could cut into Grubhub’s revenue. Restaurants will pay a one-time $99 sign-up fee and $49 monthly, although Grubhub is waiving both fees through April 2022.
Now seems as good a time as any for the move. The company’s shareholders will vote June 10 on its merger with a European company, Just Eat Takeaway.com, which should reduce some of the focus on Grubhub’s bottom line. Grubhub and other delivery platforms have been enjoying big increases in business as the COVID-19 pandemic forced diners to order out. Grubhub’s first-quarter revenue was up 52 percent from a year earlier.
But Grubhub and peers already are at risk from regulators and legislators who are questioning their fees and business practices, such as control over customer data, as well as listing restaurants on the apps without their permission. During the pandemic, cities such as Chicago imposed limits on marketing and delivery fees that the companies can charge to restaurants. Some cities and states are considering making those caps permanent.