restaurant delivery toronto

Toronto restaurant owners are delivering their own food to save on hefty app delivery fees

Delivery apps are making a killing right now, but some restaurant owners in Toronto have begun to offer their own, more personalized delivery options, amidst COVID-19. 

Uber, Foodora, and DoorDash continue to play an essential role in the general population's survival (for those who don't cook at home, anyway), but according to some restaurant owners, there's a number of benefits to delivering orders themselves. 

Take Alen Zukanovic, co-owner of the Bosnian bakery Somun Superstar, who has started transporting customers' orders on his bike. 

"It's to serve the neighbours," says Zukanovic. "We miss this personal touch and connection so much." 

Though their menu is currently available on Uber Eats, Somun (which is located in the Upper Beaches) has set up an online ordering service through Square App that allows customers to order and pay online. 

Zukanovic then hops on his Norco bike, which he recently decked out with a bike rack courtesy of local business Cycle Solutions and a thermal bag, and hand-delivers orders within a 10-minute radius in either direction.

It's a contact-less process: Zukanovic says he drops off the orders on the porch, maybe exchanging a wave from the window. He's also begun offering the option of adding a $4 potted plant from next door Flower Centre, to "keep small businesses like ours in the forefront."

Though his bike delivery radius sits directly within Uber Eats' range, he says regular locals are the main target for the personalized delivery — seeing a familiar face is always a big plus. 

Meanwhile, the Filipino BBQ spot Wilson's Haus of Lechon, which is located in Toronto's Little Manila Neighbourhood, has begun delivering to areas like Brampton, Mississauga, Durham, and Scarborough in order to meet customers that aren't within Uber Eats' or Foodora's range. 

"A lot of our customers are from out of the city," says Jaeybee Martinito, the owners' daughter, who travels to customers' homes herself with bags of lechon combos. "They used to drive to us." 

Joseph Nguyen, co-owner of Tam Vietnamese in the Junction, says that he's going to start delivering orders himself to cut down on hefty delivery app fees, switching to e-transfers instead. 

"We need an alternative to Uber. Sales are down so far, and a third or more of our sales have to go to this service," he says. 

Starting Tuesday, Nguyen will start driving around in his minivan to get orders to locals within a 10 to 15 minute radius, mostly staying within the Junction.

While he says they'll stay on Uber Eats, Tam would rather take the time to deliver personally than pay out to Uber, which still charges businesses more than 30 per cent per order despite offering free delivery to customers.

"We don't see the point of signing up for a bunch of food apps if they're going to take percentage anyway... businesses are still paying full percentages," he says. 

Ordering directly from the restaurant will save customers a few dollars by nixing app service fees, plus Nguyen says he hopes local deliveries will become "an initiative to promote people to actually stay inside." 

Lead photo by

Alen Zukanovic


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