Restaurants Struggling During Pandemic Say Delivery App Fees Are Overwhelming

Some restaurant owners say fees from third-party delivery apps like DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub are taking advantage of businesses fighting to stay open

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Restaurants have been struggling heavily since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. And with many reliant on third-party delivery apps, some business owners say the fees are making life even more difficult.

At Porto Restaurant in Boston's Back Bay, business heading into 2021 is down 80%. And then there are the delivery fees from companies like DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub, which can eat up another big chunk of cash.

"We're dying," said Jody Adams, a chef and partner at Porto. "It feels like they're just taking advantage, and they're predatory. Up to 30% of what we take in, they take out."

Restaurant owners are now urging lawmakers on Beacon Hill to renew the push to cap delivery fees at 15%.

"We just really want the legislature in Massachusetts to step up," Adams said.

The fees are something many restaurants say they are struggling with, including Liam Maguire's Irish Pub in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

"You think you do a great night of sales," said Rory Maguire, the pub's chef and owner. "It's close to a third of what you've done all day that you just had to give away."

"Pricing regulations could cause us to increase costs for customers, which could lead to fewer orders for local restaurants," DoorDash said in a statement to NBC10 Boston.

Grubhub said that "fee caps are well-intentioned but counterproductive at a time when restaurants need more … order volume than ever."

Uber Eats did not immediately return a request for comment.

"We've looked into self-delivery, and it would be cheaper for us to pull insurance and do self-delivery than it is to use the companies," Maguire said.

In a letter published in The Boston Globe Thursday, restaurant owners urged lawmakers to revisit the issue in the new year.

Legislation that would cap delivery fees has stalled on Beacon Hill over the last several months.

"I think customers have become extremely dependent on these third-party delivery companies," said Adams. "We're not saying we want them to go away, we just want them to be reasonable."

NBC10 Boston reached out to two of the lawmakers at the center of the legislation, but has not yet heard back.

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