MAR 07, 2021
With tens of thousands of Illinoisans receiving their COVID vaccinations every day, it feels like we’re starting to see a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. For those in the restaurant industry, we can begin to turn our attention from simply surviving to growing and thriving. As we look ahead, we also have to recognize the changes our industry has undergone in recent months, with one major change being the prevalence of third-party delivery platforms.
There has been a lot of conversation over the last year about these platforms after Chicago passed an ordinance to implement commission caps on third party platforms. There are certainly a number of people in the restaurant industry who aren’t fans of third-party platforms. I would have counted myself as one of these opponents just a few years ago.
I not only didn’t like these apps — I didn’t even use them. But after actually working with a third-party app over the last few years, my opinion has changed. While I know I certainly don’t speak for everyone in this industry, I want to make sure the other side of this conversation is heard.
I’ll start with this: if it weren’t for third party apps, DoorDash in particular, my business wouldn’t be open right now.
Like everyone in this business, COVID forced us to change how we operate. In order to keep Corey’s NYC Bagel Deli open, I had to rethink how I could continue providing high quality products to customers without the experience of visiting my shop.
Before COVID, our business was 50% wholesale and catering, 25% corporate catering and 25% in-store retail and pick up, which was plentiful and included lunch breaks, weekend crowds, etc. When COVID hit, our customer count soon dropped by 75%. Luckily, I had begun my partnership with DoorDash right before the pandemic really started to impact my ability to run the business.
After developing a close working relationship with my community manager at the third-party service, who gets back to me 24/7, I started to realize just how much working with them could actually help my business. They not only work with me to best understand what I need, they consistently work to meet those needs — making it possible to keep my doors open at Corey’s.
Beyond that, during COVID, DoorDash stepped up to help. They provided signage to help direct drivers around the shop, helped with in-store operations, and expanded my delivery radius to reach more customers. My business is promoted on their website and app, and they extended 50% commission relief at the height of the pandemic. It’s not an understatement to say that this delivery service kept me alive over the last year. In fact, we’ve doubled our delivery volume and just celebrated our highest 30-day volume in our partnership history.
However, operating solely with delivery is not enough for everyone out there. Sadly, 50 restaurants in my area alone have been forced to shut their doors for good, and I know we’re not out of the woods yet. But as I continue to operate a small business amidst what has been one of the most challenging economic environments in a generation and navigate this next chapter, I can rest a little easier knowing I have the tools I need to adapt.
I hope members of our City Council take this into consideration as they look to support our restaurant industry in the weeks and months to come. Not only can third party apps bring new business to our doors, they allow us to focus on what we do best — making quality food for our customers — while taking delivery and other logistics off our plate.
No one is perfect, but third-party apps have been essential to me during this time. As I begin to look ahead, I see these platforms being a key part of my future. I hope they’re here to stay, and that public policy can help support this new landscape.
Corey Kaplan is the owner of Corey's NYC Bagel Deli. He started Corey's NYC Bagel Deli in 2000 and has 2 locations in Chicago.
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