Seriously – Say no to Uber eats

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Uber eats launched in 2014, and in 5 years a pile of restaurants have closed globally.


Apparently Australians spend $2.6 billion a year on food delivery. Wow. I love food, I love eating out but it’s equally as enjoyable for me to cook at home.

But it’s time to say no to uber eats (and their competitors) if we want to enjoy the dining out experience, have better meals, a better restaurant culture, better dates, and healthier bodies.

I have to put in a disclaimer here, that I do love uber. It is the food delivery services I take issue with. I must admit I have never really understood the attraction to companies like Uber eats.

To me, a meal is either eaten out in a restaurant with all of the fabulousness, fun and glossy glamour that appetising experience involves – whether it’s a quick flavourful Thai stir fry or a dainty Michelin star degustation.

Marshmallow biscuit with chocolate coating cut in half on spoon over white metal cup with navy rim
The art of food has been a part of human culture forever. Image from Unsplash.

…………

Or it’s at home at a cook up for family or friends, and enjoying the journey of it – and the nosh .

But Uber eats is a kind of soggy hybrid – what started as exceptional sometimes dainty and piquant restaurant food in the restaurant kitchen is delivered out of a backpack in plastic containers, often resembling a boxer after a tough fight, just not quite right. It’s sometimes cool, a bit crushed and smashed up, swooshing out of the plastic container, or worse still, melted. And we eat it as if it’s a fine dining experience. It’s not. Who are we kidding?

When did plastic containers become gourmet? ummm… they didn’t.

And we pay a lot for it, but the restaurants are paying more. According to restaurants I spoke to, they have to pay 30%-35% of the menu price to uber to deliver it.

So if the meal is $100, $30-$35 goes straight to uber. In addition some restaurants have been charged anywhere from $350 for $500 just to be listed by home delivery companies before they have paid the above percentage.

Running a restaurant in this country, and especially in Sydney with wage costs, high rents, competition, a fickle market and tough liquor laws is hard enough to start with. But with home delivery services eating into profits, many restaurants say there are additional legal issues with contracts being issued by various home delivery services that make it too tough to stay in business.

food delivery cyclist riding through rain in New York City.
Food delivery cyclist bracing winter in NYC to deliver food. Pic by Clay Banks.

And how much (or how little) the cyclists are being paid to deliver it is a whole other story I won’t even go into here.

In some ways, home food delivery services are a mere mini step up from the old takeaway we all once knew and loved. The difference being this service is available at every end of the market. Seriously swish restaurants are now accessible in this way, ( as are bargain burger joints), and it is delivered to your door in minutes.

And as we well know, this business model has gone seriously viral. Globally. It’s frankly unpalatable, but it seems I am in the minority.

Am I the only one who sees this is destroying the very essence of what it is to dine out? It is effecting the dating culture, and our health. It is seeing the quality of food in restaurants decline, and it is destroying the value of a restaurant meal and restaurant culture.

aerial image of diners at restaurant tables
Dining out can be one of life’s great experiences.Image by K8

At least back in the day when we ordered take away, we had to walk there or drive the car, park and walk into the restaurants. The point is we got a tiny bit of exercise.With uber eats our longest walk is from the couch to the front door and back. Ask any uber driver what they are seeing when they do deliveries, and the stories are endless, and a sometimes scary take on human habits.

And in the singles world? When did it become attractive for a date to order in pre-made food? There’s nothing more attractive than a man -or woman- who not only knows how to cook up a storm but who goes to the effort of buying fresh food, bringing it home and making a tasty, mouthwatering, home cooked meal.

Amazon and Netflix seem to have somehow given us permission to be lazy. And my male mates say the truth is, uber eats has made it “so much easier to get laid”. As any single person knows, Netflix and chill (and home delivery) is a real thing.

Compuer screen showing uber eats
Ordering a meal to your door takes seconds, and minutes to arrive thanks to a range of home delivery services.

In the UK I’ve seen mini Star wars style robots on wheels being trialled as mini delivery trucks for local restaurants and dark kitchens (purpose built kitchens only making food for home delivery services with lower overheads), which are on the rise.

Dogs are apparently the issue for the robots as the food never makes it to the delivery point. Next fines will be introduced for dog owners whose pooches interfere with food deliveries. It’s madness.

And the home delivery boom shows no signs of slowing down.

white tablecloth set with glasses in a restaurant
The theatre of a night at a great restaurant cannot be denied. Image by Nihl Stahl,

If we want our amazing restaurant culture to survive, the answer is simple – eat local and eat out, often. And relish the experience of the staff, the chef, the chat, the atmosphere, the tastes, the colours and the sheer joy of dining out. It can be spectacular.

And whenever possible, walk to a restaurant this summer, it is good for everyone’s health – the restaurants as well as yours.

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Renae Leith-Manos

CONTRIBUTOR

Renae Leith-Manos travels the world writing (www.renaesworld.com.au). She has had a colourful media career as a journalist in many magazines and newspapers, and spends her time writing, consulting to new businesses, running, doing yoga, swimming & cycling.
She's likes healthy eating, but thinks chocolate cake is just as important as kale chips.
She spends most weekends hanging out with her gorgeous twins.

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