Uber Eats offers moveable feasts in Santa Fe
The intersection of take-out, drive-thru, the internet and a vision of dining’s future may hinge on two four-letter words:
Uber, the app-based, ride-booking giant, has launched its food delivery service in Santa Fe, and its appearance in this increasingly crowded niche market has raised eyebrows, if not fears, from competing services — not to mention the interest of participating restaurant owners hungering for another way to boost revenue streams.
The service, which launched in 2016 in the U.S, came to Santa Fe last week, initially partnering with 12 restaurants and four McDonald’s.
Though participating restaurant owners say they see it as another way to boost revenue, reaction from established local delivery services was mixed.
Justin Greene, founder of Santa Fe’s Dashing Delivery, acknowledged he is concerned about how Uber’s leap into his domain might affect business.
“The ‘Walmart-, Amazon-, Uber-fication’ of the economy can be very disruptive, especially at the local level,” said Greene, whose operation has been delivering hot meals from local restaurants for 15 years.
But Blake Hirt, the senior manager of Uber Eats, said Santa Fe is a strong market for dining and has room to grow its food delivery options.
“Santa Fe offers a booming dining scene with something for everyone,” Hirt wrote in an email, adding that since Uber Eats launched in Albuquerque in November, an expansion into Santa Fe had been on the radar.
“We wanted to give residents more restaurant selection than they’ve ever had before, at the speed and reliability that is synonymous with Uber,” he said.
The Uber ride service, which started operating in Santa Fe in November 2014, has a ready-made fleet of drivers and a passenger base accustomed to using its platform.
“As consumers have become more accustomed to the mobile, on-demand economy, we’re seeing more people rely on food services like Uber Eats,” Hirt wrote.
The brand currently operates in more than 290 cities across 35 countries and six continents, according to its website. According to a report from The Information digitial media company, Uber Eats generated over 13 percent of Uber’s overall gross revenue within the first quarter of 2018.
The entry of Uber Eats will bring it into direct competition with a company like Dashing Delivery, which Greene said has been offering ample local food options and timely service for years.
“Before there were any of these big companies, we were the only ones who did it,” he said, noting Dashing Delivery has delivered more than 100,000 meals since its inception — all from popular local restaurants.
“We’re not interested in delivering McDonald’s or Taco Bell,” Greene said. “We’d rather get you a fresh burger from the Cowgirl or tacos from Atrisco Cafe.”
Greene said not everyone wants to use an app. Dashing Delivery customers log their orders into a website or call them in — making it more user-friendly for some clients unfamilier witg using apps, he said.
Gordon Schaeffer, the CEO of Fetch Delivery, a more general app-based delivery service that began operating in Santa Fe in recent weeks, is far less worried about Uber Eats.
“Competition is good. It’s healthy,” he said.
Schaeffer expects growth in the market for everyone involved, including himself.
He cited a Morgan Stanley study claiming the total U.S. food delivery market could grow up to $210 billion in the long term from $11 billion today.
Restaurant delivery makes up about 50 percent of his business so far, Schaeffer said, explaining that Fetch offers deliveries in 20 retail categories, including hardware stores, groceries and pharmacies. Last week, Fetch launched a multi-order option, in which customers can place up to four requests under one delivery.
“It’s like having an assistant on demand to run your errands,” Schaeffer said.
Hirt said Uber Eats helps drive incremental growth to fast-food chains, but partnering with local restaurants, which can see a bigger benefit from the service, is its top priority.
Some restaurants in other cities have added the equivalent of an entire day’s worth of revenue each week by partnering with Uber Eats, said Stephanie Sedlak, a spokeswoman for the company.
A big benefit to Uber Eats’ business partners, Sedlak said, is the app provides key data, such as what time of day there’s increased demand for products and what people are saying about the restaurant on social media.
Additionally, she said, Uber tracks every delivery, so the consumer knows when an order has been received, when it’s being prepared and when it’s en route.
“Santa Fe is a great little market for us,” she said. “Their dining scene is getting a lot of national news.”
Several local hot spots claim they’re already feeling the effects.
“It’s totally increased business,” said Jeff Keenan, a co-owner of Whoo’s Donuts.
Sylvia Castaneda, a co-owner of Paleteria Oasis, a popsicle shop in the Design Center, agrees. Advertising is the main reason Paleteria Oasis partnered with Uber Eats, she said.
“We feel here at the Design Center that a lot of people don’t know that there’s shopping inside. … We’re hoping we get some orders placed and that we can get our business out there.”
A delivery service — with the Uber name behind it — is a cheaper form of advertising than traditional marketing, she said. “We’ve got great food, so we hope people find us … and that it launches a good outcome for us.”
Belinda Marshall, manager at Plaza Cafe Southside, said the restaurant has made a handful of sales through Uber Eats so far. But she expects that to change once more people know the service is in town.
“I think it’s going to be a really good thing, but I think it’s too early to tell,” she said.
Marshall said she has tried partnering with local delivery businesses in the past, witj unsuccessful results.
“That was very disappointing to me, because it [delivery] was always one service I really wanted but was never able to provide,” she said. “So, when Uber Eats contacted me, I was like, ‘Yes, I do want you! You don’t know how bad!’ … I’m excited to launch a new service for my customers.”
On Monday, Marshall said she already had 26 to-go orders placed before 1 p.m. She said she believes when people find out Uber Eats is in town, those to-go orders likely will turn into deliveries.
“If they could’ve had it delivered, I think they would’ve,” she said. “I think it’s something that Santa Fe really needs.”
What you pay: The cost of the food, an Uber Eats booking fee (generally under $5, according to Forbes), the driving distance cost, which varies, and any applicable taxes.
What it costs the restaurant: Restaurants pay 30 percent to Uber Eats.
Hours: Uber Eats will deliver until 2 a.m. according to Business Insider, but it depends on the hours of the restaurant, which in Santa Fe generally are much earlier.
What you pay: $5 a Fetch within a 2-mile radius, and an added $1.50 per additional mile
What it costs the restaurant: Restaurants don’t pay Fetch and vice versa.
Hours: Because Fetch uses Uber and Lyft drivers, it says it can have people available 24/7, but its general hours are 8 a.m. to midnight, according to the website. Restaurant delivery is dependent on restaurant hours.
What you pay: The cost of food and the standard delivery fee of $6 — higher dependent on location — and gratuity.
What it costs the restaurant: Restaurants pay 25 to 35 percent per order to Dashing Delivery, depending on the delivery, said its owner Justin Greene. Dashing Delivery collects all the money, he said, and reimburses restaurants 65 to 75 percent, depending on any added marketing services.
Hours: Lunch is noon to 1:30 p.m. weekdays; dinner service is 4:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, according to the company’s website.