Food delivery is doing restaurants a disservice

The first time I ever ordered food to be delivered (that wasn’t pizza) I was amazed. I downloaded an app and instantly dozens of restaurants were literally at my fingertips.

Well, instantly they were available. The actual delivery itself was more of a disappointment.

Admittedly I’m not much of a cook. After a long day of work, the last thing I want to do is start making food when I get home. (It’s the reason I pay someone to clean my house and cut my grass, too.) I’m also of the opinion that I don’t care to spend so much time making food when it’ll only take me a matter of minutes to eat it.

So, I jumped at the chance to order food. Almost every time I have done it, it’s ended in disappointment. Maybe sometimes it’s been rage. What’s worse is that the restaurants I’d tried for the first time have made me an unlikely repeat customer because of the experience with someone else’s delivery app.

The common problem I’ve found is that the food is cold. Checking reviews online I see this to be a common complaint. But when I think about it, it makes sense. You have a kitchen making the food and then it often sits there waiting for the dispatched driver to arrive. Then there is the 10- or 15-minute drive to your place.

Imagine sitting in a restaurant and knowing that your food has sat “in the window” for upwards of 30 minutes. You wouldn’t still want it. Those fries wouldn’t be crispy. The burger wouldn’t be piping hot. That frozen dessert wouldn’t be intact. In one instance, my pizza wasn’t even upright. The boxes had been flipped upside down at some point along the way.

This is the complaint that I’ve heard from restaurants that feel pressured into participating in these delivery trends. They can’t afford to miss out on the extra business but they know the quality of the product is beyond their control once the food leaves the restaurant.

Not only is the service maddening to the consumer, it ends up giving the restaurant a bad reputation. Or is it the app that looks bad?

It’s a blame game of sorts: Whose fault is the mushy food? Did the restaurant prepare it too early? Was the driver slow in bringing the food? Was there not a driver available to bring the order in a timelier manner?

To me they are both losers. One order makes two companies look bad. I’m certainly not going to give glowing reviews to restaurant food that was old and soggy. I’m also not going to give the app credit for bringing me that terrible food.

The restaurants are the ones that suffer the worst in this scenario. Their brands and reputations are on the line but they’re at the mercy of someone else’s service. From what I hear, the eateries can’t afford not to jump on the bandwagon since, well, “everybody’s doing it.”

Now that I think about it, maybe these apps will do something good for the restaurant industry. Maybe we’ll all eventually get sick of the terrible food delivered to our door that we once again become social and look forward to going out and dining at a restaurant in the presence of other people.

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