Food & Drink

Baltimore chef: Delete your food delivery apps while restaurants struggle under coronavirus restrictions

A Baltimore chef took to Instagram over the weekend with a bold message for housebound diners: “Delete your food delivery apps."

With restaurants closed to dine-in service during the coronavirus pandemic, many area eateries are relying on delivery and carryout business more than ever.


But chef Ashish Alfred wants customers to stop ordering food through apps like Uber Eats. Such apps typically take a commission of around 30% per order, a huge amount for businesses already struggling, Alfred said. Apps are in effect “killing” restaurants, he added.

While restaurants are suffering, “The best thing that you can do for us,” Alfred said, in addition to staying at home, is to “delete every food delivery app that you have on your phone.”


Alfred’s restaurants, including Duck Duck Goose in Fells Point and two restaurants in Bethesda, are closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Reached by phone, he declined to comment for this article.

Ronny Thammasathiti, manager at Mayuree Thai Tavern, said that platforms like Grubhub can help small businesses with limited resources for advertising to gain customers who wouldn’t otherwise know about their business. But, Thammasathiti acknowledged, “If you really want to help out the local restaurant, of course it would be helpful to order directly.”

Steve Chu, founder of Ekiben, compared food delivery apps to bottled water — customers know the drawbacks, but guiltily use them anyway because of the convenience.

“During this pandemic, while so many restaurants are teetering on the brink of collapse, these apps should waive or even discount their fees to show support to the community they’ve been profiting off for so long,” Chu wrote in a text message.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Grubhub said the company’s “mission is to help keep restaurant doors open through delivery and takeout.” The Chicago-based company also says it is working with government officials to allow kitchens to stay open for pickup and delivery amid the shutdown.

Grubhub, which also owns Seamless, has suspended collection of up to $100 million in commission payments from restaurants impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurant owners will need to pay the money back eventually.

While Uber officials said in a statement that they “support efforts to help the hospitality industry,” the company has kept its commission rates steady in the midst of the crisis. Changing its rates, they argued, would “set a far-reaching precedent in a highly competitive market.”


In San Francisco, where Uber is based, city officials have intervened to cap the amount apps can charge restaurants. Eater reported last week that an emergency order backed by the city’s mayor and two members of its Board of Supervisors would force third party delivery companies to charge commissions of no more than 15%.

DoorDash has announced that it will cut commission fees in half for small restaurants through the end of May.