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Delivery Start-Up DoorDash Infuriates Some Restaurateurs by Working Around Them

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One restaurant rejected a sales pitch from the company but then found it had listed it anyway.

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Delivery start-up DoorDash launched in New York eight months ago.
Delivery start-up DoorDash launched in New York eight months ago.

California-based delivery start-up DoorDash, known for teaming up with Taco Bell and 7-Eleven, is listing the menus and logos of some restaurants on its service in New York without the owners' permission — and charging both a delivery fee and higher menu prices. While some restaurants tell Eater that they don't mind being on the site, others are upset and feel that DoorDash has been screwing with their business by misrepresenting the relationship.

DoorDash, which launched in New York about eight months ago, sends its own delivery people to pick up food from restaurants and bakeries, charging customers a $2 to $3 fee in Manhattan and a $3 to $4 one in Brooklyn after the first use. A company spokesperson says that most of the businesses listed on the site have been informed and are willing partners. The rep declined a request to provide numbers.

But not all restaurants on DoorDash know that they're listed. Tommy Ferrick, owner of Delilah's Steaks in Greenpoint, says he rejected an offer from a DoorDash salesperson months ago due to a 20 to 25 percent commission fee. More than 50 percent of his cheesesteak business is from delivery, and he's already paying GrubHub a commission that ends up being three times higher than his rent every month. He's currently trying to get more people to just order directly through the restaurant. But a few weeks ago, his business started getting pick-up orders from DoorDash. He looked on the site and was shocked to see the Delilah's Steaks logo and full menu listed as an available restaurant, with significant price markups. A cheesesteak costs $11 in the shop, for example, but DoorDash charged $16.95 for it. "I was livid," says Ferrick, who worries about quality control for deliveries he doesn't know about.

A cheesesteak costs $11 in the shop, for example, but DoorDash charged $16.95 for it.

La Panineria, a popular Italian sandwich shop in Greenwich Village that's listed on the site, had no idea what DoorDash was until Eater inquired. Owner Mario Pesce is upset that that La Panineria's name, menu, and logo are being used for sales without his knowledge. It also bothers him that customers going to DoorDash are seeing numbers that are higher than both the in-store price, and what the dishes would cost with the standard delivery charges on Seamless, he says. A burrito panini costs $15 in the store, and DoorDash charges $21.95. "If [customers] see the higher price, they will get upset," Pesce says. "It's very bad."

It's not the first time restaurants have balked at being listed on the swath of new delivery sites without permission. DoorDash, which is reportedly worth $600 million, is similar to delivery service start-up PostMates, a company known for inking contracts with places like Starbucks and ChipotleLike DoorDash, PostMates has its detractors. Businesses across the country have complained about being listed without permission. Staff at restaurants and couriers for PostMates have also had issues with the tipping mechanisms, which often leave workers shorthanded.

But DoorDash says that they're different from PostMates. If a restaurant asks to be taken down, they're happy to do it, a spokesman says. They care more about the relationship with merchants than other services, he adds. Ones that aren't notified are on the site either because of customer demand or because DoorDash is testing demand for a particular cuisine or location, the spokesman explains.

Still, DoorDash lists three of four Doughnut Plants shops on the site without the company's permission — but PostMates, Doughnut Plant's preferred delivery merchant, did reach out before posting the menu, according to the bakery's creative director Jeff Magness. The Doughnut Plant logo DoorDash posts is also incomplete, Magness adds. "I don't like [that] it makes it look like we are working with them," he writes in an email. "That said, we haven't received complaints from customers."

Many of the restaurants Eater called were aware of being listed on the site and willingly do business with them, even if DoorDash didn't tell them first. Building on Bond, a well-liked American restaurant in Carroll Gardens, knew it was on the site even though no one from DoorDash ever reached out, says owner Phil Morgan. Though Morgan didn't realize the menu prices on DoorDash were higher, he doesn't mind being on the site. "It’s not conflicting with an existing service," says Morgan, who notes that Building On Bond doesn't have its own delivery service.

And Tom Colicchio's sandwich chain 'Wichcraft is thrilled to be a formal partner with DoorDash, says chain co-founder Sisha Ortuzar. 'Wichcraft has used traditional methods since opening in 2003, including taking orders by phone, Seamless, and GrubHub. Ortuzar sees DoorDash as the future of delivery service, where restaurants can focus on making food and outsource delivery logistics. Plus, Ortuzar has always thought that customer service to restaurants from Seamless and GrubHub were lacking, while DoorDash seems to treat the restaurant as the client instead of the diner, Ortuzar says. The restaurateur notes that DoorDash approached him about working together, and he hadn't heard about some restaurants getting listed without permission. "Our experience has only been good," he says. "They’ve been a good partner."

Ferrick from Delilah's Steaks has been warning his restaurant friends about DoorDash, which launched in Brooklyn and has been rapidly expanding in Manhattan. He called the service and had Delilah's removed, but the company never called him back to discuss what happened despite his request, he says. For him, the lack of communication ultimately meant he had no way of controlling for the quality of the food on DoorDash deliveries. "I know someone paid 25 percent on top of it and thought they were probably getting a premiere delivery service," Ferrick said. "They're getting sheisted. "