The hospitality industry—restaurants in general and the independent, small business, family-owned and operated ones specifically—are free-falling.
After a tumultuous year of lockdowns, on and off shutdowns, retro-fits; including but not limited to outdoor solutions requiring not just tables and chairs, but heaters and tents in some if not most climes—better bootstrap-up food industry-warriors—you’ve got to ‘Pay to Play “Doordash’.
According to Dana Huie, of ONE Food Management, representing local independent restaurants; The Original Mel’s Diner, The Cheese Steak Shop, Coyote Bar & Kitchen, and Oak Park Brewing Company;
When introduced Third-Party delivery accounted for between 5% and 20% of most restaurant sales.
These low percentages allowed dine-in service and sales the ability to offset and in some cases subsidize the charges for this smaller portion of our business as we had most of our hard costs embedded already.
With Sacramento locally and California as a whole on the strictest lockdown since March—what little these business owners may have salvaged from an already cataclysmic year as holiday celebrations were bound to be austere compared to other years at best—is off the table as takeout, to-go, or delivery is the only knife left in their knife-rolls.
And it’s the Butterknife, at best.
Most independent restaurateurs across the country operating with dining rooms would agree, even the most robust takeout business won’t substitute for. the money that on-premise dining brings according to one reporter from The Chicago Tribune.
This point was made evident when Humboldt Park’s Cafe Marie Jeanne poised to close after losing its own fight to stay alive served its final meals to longtime patrons and loyal customers.
According to reporting long lines spanned blocks along Augusta Avenue outside the restaurant with customers who kept the restaurant busy in its final days.
Owner Mike Simmons told the Tribune;
If we were open six days a week and we were as busy as we were today, it would still be a fraction of what we were doing with a dining room.
Most customers who appreciate the convenience of online ordering and delivery may not be aware of how this ‘convenience’ affects the business’ bottom line not only directly but indirectly, as well.
Current conditions in the marketplace exacerbated by an already sporadic and difficult year force these business owners to pay the fees or risk being left off ordering platforms like Doordash—as their competitors ‘win’ their business.
Spokesperson, Dana Huie emphasized this point;
In most cases, the fees that these Third-Party companies are charging are making our current situation worse and they have taken advantage of COVID to drive their own sales and valuations up.
Headlines as recent as December 9, across the news grid, boasts DoorDash Soars in First Day of Trading; The delivery company’s shares closed at $190- each, 86 percent above its initial public offering price of $102, in a sign of investor appetite.
Our small local restaurants are on the precipice… DoorDash, not so much.
And in Sacramento restaurants of all sizes are relying on their local officials to ‘Do the right thing’ by at the very least, capping these excessive fees to help keep these once-thriving businesses from going bankrupt and to keep thousands of people employed.
And perhaps this helps at least explain just one of the many troubles eating away and spoiling the appetite of these hardworking purveyors of good food, good drinks, and good vibrations.