Retail Dining is undergoing a sea-change in recent years
By Mike Isaac and David Yaffe-Bellany
Aug. 14, 2019
Restaurateurs are adding “virtual” restaurants to expand their delivery options – and most of us have no idea we’re ordering from restaurants that don’t actually exist! A recent New York Times article by Mike Isaac & David Yaffe-Bellany looked at the ways in which the new delivery apps like Uber Eats are changing the face of retail dining.
At 9:30 on most weeknights, Ricky Lopez, the head chef and owner of Top Round Roast Beef in San Francisco, stacks up dozens of hot beef sandwiches and sides of curly fries to serve hungry diners. He also breads chicken cutlets for another of his restaurants, Red Ribbon Fried Chicken. He flips beef patties on the grill for a third, TR Burgers and Wings. And he mixes frozen custard for a dessert shop he runs, Ice Cream Custard.
Of Mr. Lopez’s four operations, three are “virtual restaurants” with no physical storefronts, tables or chairs. They exist only inside a mobile app, Uber Eats, the on-demand meal delivery service owned by Uber.
“Delivery used to be maybe a quarter of my business,” Mr. Lopez, 26, said from behind Top Round’s counter, as his staff assembled roast beef and chicken sandwiches and placed them in white paper bags for Uber Eats drivers to deliver. “Now it’s about 75 percent of it.”
Retail Dining is becoming Delivery Dining
Food delivery apps like Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub are starting to reshape the $863 billion American restaurant industry. As more people order food to eat at home, and as delivery becomes faster and more convenient, the apps are changing the very essence of what it means to operate a restaurant.
No longer must restaurateurs rent space for a dining room. All they need is a kitchen — or even just part of one. Then they can hang a shingle inside a meal-delivery app and market their food to the app’s customers, without the hassle and expense of hiring waiters or paying for furniture and tablecloths. Diners who order from the apps may have no idea that the restaurant doesn’t physically exist.