Table for none

Delivery apps such as SkipTheDishes lead the way in food delivery technology, but restaurants will survive.

Johnny and Mae’s recently opened a second truck in Mount Pearl. The truck has been a hit since opening three years ago. Nicholas Conway/Kicker

Nicholas Conway
Kicker

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, the food service industry has taken a hit. But one business model is not only surviving, but thriving.

The rise of food delivery shouldn’t come as a surprise to many. As the world crawls ever so slowly out of the pandemic and life finds a new normal, the food delivery market continues to grow.

Vicki Barber does the marketing and communications for Ches’ Fish and Chips. The more than 70-year-old restaurant has six locations on the Avalon and is one of the most iconic eateries in the province.

“We joined SkipTheDishes when they first came here, I believe in 2018 or 2019,” Barber said.  “We had already been on Skip for quite some time before COVID.”

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a massive increase in the popularity of apps like SkipTheDishes and DoorDash. These apps allow users to have food delivered to their door in just a few clicks. According to SkipTheDishes, 81 per cent of customers have ordered from a restaurant they have never visited in person.

Barber believes food delivery services will not be the death of dining in. For restaurants like Ches’, the delivery business is nothing new.

“Deliveries existed long before SkipTheDishes,” said Barber. “Ches’ was one of the first restaurants outside of pizza establishments to have delivery. We’ve been doing our own deliveries since 1991 and that didn’t impact the number of people coming in the door. It gives people more ways to shop.”

Not every place to grab a bite, however, is as old as Ches’.

Johnny and Mae’s is a food truck on Military Road in St. John’s. The popular spot opened three years ago. The owners, Alicia and Kyle McKenna, opened a second truck in May for Mount Pearl residents. The husband and wife couple joined the delivery app DoorDash in June.

She says despite pandemic restrictions slowly fading, food delivery services will only continue to rise in popularity.

“I love going out to eat,” McKenna said. “I always have. But I definitely would say that DoorDash (and services like it) are only going to get busier. The convenience of being able to eat at home can sometimes outweigh the experience of going out and eating at a restaurant or food truck.”

Not everything is perfect with delivery apps, says Barber.

“Once that food goes out the door it’s not up to us anymore how quickly it can get (to the destination),” Barber said. “Sometimes we’ll hear from people that they never did get their food and unfortunately that’s out of our control.”

Quality control is a challenge, said McKenna.

“If the delivery driver decides to stop and get gas and takes 20 extra minutes to get that food to our customer and the food shows up cold, we don’t have that control over our food,” McKenna said.

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