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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Logan Square Restaurants Offer In-House Delivery Services To Avoid High Fees Charged By Grubhub, Other Delivery Apps

The delivery apps take up to a 30 percent cut. By hiring bike couriers, the restaurants don't lose out on much-needed money.

One of Same Day Cafe's bike couriers.
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LOGAN SQUARE — At least two restaurants in Logan Square have rolled out in-house delivery services in recent weeks to avoid the high delivery fees Grubub and other third-party apps are charging.

With indoor dining not an option, restaurants across Chicago have come to rely on delivery and curbside pickup during the coronavirus shutdown. But most delivery apps charge restaurants a crushing commission fee — sometimes up to 30 percent of the menu price of the food, on top of a fee for delivering the food, according to the city.

Same Day Cafe is one restaurant going in-house for delivery. The small cafe at 2651 N. Kedzie Blvd., which serves seasonal sandwiches, soups and salads, has offered its own bike delivery service for several weeks.

“We’re giving so much of our money to Grubhub. … But we also have to survive,” said Marjorie Woolard, the cafe’s general manager.

Woolard and another Same Day employee have split up the deliveries. So far, the new courier service has been a success, said Woolard, who was able to hire back an employee to help.

While fewer people are ordering directly from Same Day than they were from GrubHub, Same Day is seeing more profit from each order, Woolard said. Plus, the in-house delivery service allows the Same Day team to interact with customers at a time when the restaurant is closed to dine-in customers, she said.

“It’s very valuable for us to also have that connection with our customers,” Woolard said.

Before Same Day launched its own delivery service, the cafe only offered delivery through Grubhub, which had its flaws beyond the high commission fees.

Woolard said while Grubhub brought in a lot of orders, the cafe’s small kitchen had trouble keeping up with all of them. She also said sometimes Grubhub delivery drivers would show up late and the food would get cold so the cook would have to remake it.

Still, Woolard said she has “a lot of empathy” for Grubhub delivery drivers.

“A lot of them are great people, so I’m not trying to eliminate their jobs. But I wanted to make this transition before we really had to depend on them too much,” Woolard said.

Right now, Same Day is only delivering within a 2-mile radius of the cafe, but the hope is to expand the delivery radius as demand grows.

“We’re … taking control of our restaurant back. It feels good. It feels like we’re not in the hands of the Grubhub gods,” Woolard said.

Reno, which is around the corner from Same Day at 2607 N. Milwaukee Ave., is also offering its own bike and car delivery service and has been for almost a month. Reno serves wood-fired bagels, pizza and sandwiches.

Co-owner Jason Normann said they’re still using Grubhub, Caviar and Doordash in addition to their own delivery service, but the goal is to ditch the third-party apps altogether once enough people are ordering from them directly.

“To pay the up to 30 percent fees just doesn’t make sense,” Normann said. “On our end, I’d rather keep local people employed and pay them vs. paying a third-party delivery service.”

Normann said food is arriving “faster, fresher and hotter” now that delivery is being done in-house because the staff has more control over the process. He said he was able to three hire employees at a time when the restaurant has lost most of its staff.

“It’s better for the customers. It’s better for the community. It’s a win-win for everyone in the neighborhood,” Normann said.

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