The Toronto restaurant and hospitality industry is really taking a hit right now because of COVID-19. What better way to support your favourite Toronto restaurants than to order takeout! Ordering takeout is so convenient now that apps like UberEats and Doordash exist, plus not having to cook saves you some time to catch up on your favourite Netflix shows. With so many services to choose from It’s also important to keep in mind that with some takeout services, restaurants are charged larger commission fees that reduce the income they make off of your order.
If you keep up with Toronto’s food scene, you may remember when some big name Toronto restaurants spoke out against UberEats at the start of COVID-19, when they wouldn’t lower their commission charges for struggling restaurants. This opened up a huge discussion about how much restaurants actually make from using platforms like Uber Eats to boost their sales. The answer is: not as much as you’d think. This is why you MUST choose your takeout services wisely if you want to help your favourite spots survive during this tough time.
Here’s a quick guide to popular Toronto delivery apps:
- Uber Eats
Controversial, yet extremely popular – of course I had to start with UberEats. This was the first delivery platform I ever used, after immediately trusting it because of how successful Uber is as a platform. UberEats takes a 30 per cent cut from restaurants and although they’ve integrated some new temporary features since, to minimize the cuts they take from these restaurants, they’re still on the higher end in comparison to other apps.
One thing I do love about UberEats is that there’s such a big variety of restaurants and cuisines available to look through on there. Plus, they’re organized pretty well. Whether you’re searching for “bubble tea” or “falafel” they have endless options available. Their ability to track your order status is also really accurate compared to other platforms and they do a good job of catering to the overall user experience, through providing accurate restaurant recommendations for you once you’ve ordered through them a few times. It’s also important to note that some restaurants actually raise their prices when using UberEats in order to make back what they’re losing through commission fees. Odds are, if the restaurant you’re looking at is on other platforms too, you could be paying less for the same meal.
Personally, I really like using Doordash because I feel like some of the restaurants they service through the platform tend to be less fast food chains (like on UberEats) and more local restaurants or extremely popular restaurants. Plus, their delivery range is pretty far, so I can get even more food options delivered to me! Doordash often offers discounts and deals on delivery fees too. I find that I can find more restaurants that I’m familiar with on this platform and they’re also organized really well. However, I don’t find that they have a big selection of cuisines or certain foods. If they do have that food, chances of them having a variety of restaurant options for you to order from isn’t high. Doordash charges restaurants a 10 per cent fee for orders, making them an ethically better option.
- Skip the Dishes
I don’t really use Skip the Dishes, honestly. If you’re looking for fast food restaurants or pub type food you’ll find a lot of that on here. They do host restaurants like Shunoko and Antler that don’t fit the one-type-fits-all description above, but I find unless you’re specifically searching for them, these restaurants are buried under the apps recommendations for Pizza Pizza or 7-Eleven (at least, that’s what I’ve noticed based on my location when I’m using it). They don’t cater to your past orders or searches like other apps do to recommend you restaurants that you’ll probably enjoy. Skip the Dishes charges a commission fee of 20 per cent to restaurants, you can definitely order from other meal service platforms.
I used to use Ritual all the time when I worked in downtown Toronto to pre-order my lunch from nearby restaurants. They’re based in Toronto and normally take a 15% cut from restaurants. Ritual has the option to set up a team where you can organize it so that when you and your coworkers are all ordering from the same restaurant, you can conveniently pick up orders at the same time and even earn extra points from this for their rewards program.
Over the summer, Ritual partnered with the City of Toronto to create Ritual One to help restaurants maintain their sales on the app. Through Ritual One, delivery is also a possibility which is convenient! They have a pretty far order range and use Doordash delivery workers to help deliver their orders. I found their order tracking feature doesn’t really remain accurate, but if you’re not pressed for time or constantly checking your order to see where it’s at because you’re slightly impatient for food like me, you’ll be fine. I love the selection of restaurants on Ritual, they’re often not ones with multiple chain locations and are typically organized from nearest to furthest from your current location, which is a useful feature. I only started to use Ritual One recently when Yang Tea Shop had a buy one get one free sale on their bubble tea, making me realize that Ritual One is actually a really handy app to always have on hand.
After COVID-19 came along and restaurants began to boycott Uber Eats, Ambassador rose and conquered. This is a platform that many Toronto restaurants are now on, since they get to keep 100 per cent of their commissions and are more in control of their takeout services. “Designed by members of our restaurant community, for the benefit of our restaurant community,” according to their website. So many well-known Toronto restaurants are using the platform that charges them a small fee every month for its services, minimal in comparison to the commission charges per order that most meal service apps charge. It’s super easy to navigate and gives you all the information you need to know just like a regular meal service app, except it’s a website. Even though when delivering, Ambassador will go through a third party service like Uber Eats, the restaurants themselves don’t get charged a commission fee per order, so ordering through Ambassador doesn’t hurt a restaurant as much as other takeout programs can. There are so many restaurants on Ambassador that I really enjoy like Sugo, The Greenwood, and Harry’s Charbroiled. I can’t wait to order through them!
At the end of the day, calling restaurants directly or ordering from their personal websites can save them a few extra dollars that a food delivery corporation would otherwise take. If you can pick up your food on the way home from school or work instead of having it delivered to your door through a third party app, you might as well! You’ll save some extra money by skipping out on delivery fees doing it too! Plus, many restaurants are offering special pick up discounts for customers who call ahead to take home their meals themselves.
Regardless of what delivery app you choose to use, at the end of the day you’re still helping out your favourite restaurants during this tough time and getting a great meal out of it. Other free ways that could help out restaurants you order from: sharing the food you’re getting on social media, follow the restaurant on social media, be active by liking and commenting on their pictures, and sharing your positive takeout experiences with friends and loved ones!
If you’re looking for Toronto restaurant recommendations and some mediocre pictures of what I’ve been eating lately, you should follow my food blog @paothebao on Instagram!