Why takeout in Toronto is more popular than ever
It's never been easier to get takeout in Toronto thanks to a host of delivery apps - such as Foodora, UberEats, Door Dash and Favour - as well as grab-and-go pick up services like Ritual that now dominate our city's restaurant scene.
But how do these apps affect local eateries - and the people who refuse to download them?
Vegetarian restaurant Fresh, a local mini-chain, has been doing takeout for years. But apps, specifically Foodora and UberEats, let customers get grain bowls and quinoa onion rings delivered straight to their doors.
Business manager and partner Barry Alper says these apps have helped supplement Fresh's brisk takeout service; he estimates that this line of business is up 10 to 15 percent now. "It's a much more efficient way of managing our takeout," he notes.
On some nights, however, takeout lines are longer now that Foodora and UberEats have caught on across the city. But Alper stresses that dine-in customers are always the priority; his restaurants shut off the delivery apps whenever they feel like restaurant service is being compromised.
That's what Jerk Joint owner Sharon Slack does as well. She joined Foodora, UberEats and Ritual over the past few months and noticed a marked increase in her business. "It gives us a lot of access to new customers," she says.
When perusing through these services, either on a smartphone or desktop computuer, it's easy to shuffle through restaurants, which cover a wide variety of cuisines - it's like walking into a virtual food court of sorts. Foodora alone, for instance, works with more than 300 Toronto restaurants. It charges customers a $3.50 delivery fee and maintains a $15 minimum per order.
Yet for Slack, fulfilling orders for delivery can sometimes have an impact on the hungry office-workers who venture into the Queen Street Market at lunchtime. She's now looking to grow her team so that everyone can get her jerk chicken quickly.
Elsewhere on Queen West, it's common to walk into empty eateries and see employees furiously filling up orders for delivery and pick-up.
This happens from time-to-time at Mi Taco. "There have been times that it's almost too much with the delivery," says co-owner Vanessa Caschera. But just like Fresh, she and her team have learned to turn off the apps when they're flooded. "You don't want it to affect your actual face-to-face service with people," she explains.
Caschera's currently using Foodora, Door Dash, Just-Eat and Ritual, though most of her digitally based business comes from Foodora. Overall, she's happy with how they're working. "I'd say it's definitely helped us through the winter. We love it, they keep us really busy."
Photo of Mi Taco by Jesse Milns.
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