Welcome to Expedite, a (mostly) weekly newsletter by Kristen Hawley covering what’s important in restaurant technology. I'm working to send updates as frequently as the news dictates during this time.
Lots of little updates today: social media, delivery, small business loans, reservations services, and one small bright light in all of this darkness.
Instagram Adds “Order Food” to Stories
As part of a larger ecommerce launch last week, Instagram added a feature that lets restaurants accept online orders via their Instagram stories. Restaurants with an Instagram Business account can enable the feature, linking their ordering/delivery service of choice and adding stickers to stories. Clicking on the sticker lets someone place an order via the restaurant’s service of choice.
TechCrunch reported on ChowNow’s inclusion, but that’s just one option restaurants can use. Currently, Instagram supports Caviar, ChowNow, delivery.com, DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, Seamless, Toast, and Uber Eats in the US. It’s also added a host of international partners in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. (Full partner list here.)
Instagram isn’t taking a cut of orders placed using the new functionality, though restaurants are subject to the terms of their existing contracts since the orders are funnelled through third-party platforms. Meanwhile, these third-party delivery services continue to adjust their models. For example, DoorDash has waived fees for independent restaurants new to its platform and on all orders from independent restaurants for pickup. It’s also cut these fees in half for all independent restaurants. San Francisco recently instituted an emergency 15 percent cap on restaurant fees, though it may stick — before the emergency order, the city had been considering a separate measure to cap fees. A new Chicago proposal would limit commission fees restaurants pay to 5 percent.
For those without an Instagram account or even a smartphone, Uber Eats recently introduced… [checks notes] telephone ordering. As of last week, the service was live in NYC and Miami with Chicago, LA, Arizona, Florida, and New Jersey coming soon.
In the UK, Deliveroo Gets Its Amazon $
Changing times call for changing strategies, and the UK has approved Amazon’s investment in delivery service Deliveroo, citing “a significant negative impact on Deliveroo’s business.” In fact, the delivery company said that it would collapse without the cash injection. The investment was blocked initially because of concerns over (not enough) competition should Amazon decide to enter the food delivery game.
Square, Paypal, Quickbooks Offer PPP Applications
The next round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) will likely receive House approval on Thursday, after passing through the Senate on Tuesday. It adds more funding to the programs, which have both been paused after running out of cash. Square, Paypal, and Quickbooks have announced that they can process applications, adding to the ways that small businesses can apply. The new funding specifically earmarks $60 billion for smaller lenders, like community banks, too.
Your Reservation Is Cancelled
For Eater, I wrote about what reservations services are doing right now since there are no reservations to be had. It’s been really interesting to watch as these companies have shifted operations to support restaurants As an admitted skeptic, I’ve found their motives to be truly pure. Like, sure, it might be a little strange that OpenTable is powering grocery store time slots right now, but they have the technology, and if people find it useful, why not? (It's free for stores, btw.)
A month ago, we all hoped these closures were a blip on the radar, not the current business-shattering reality. Of course everyone, including Big Tech, is concerned about their bottom line — ”doing the right thing” isn’t usually a viable business plan. I guess that’s one of the best things about the hospitality business. Even in a pandemic, people are looking out for their own.
Anyway, I’m proud of this story. You can read it here.
I never thought I’d have to turn to Instagram TV for a pick-me-up, but here we are. Chef Massimo Bottura and his family have, for weeks, been cooking from home in Modena, Italy. Their quarantine started weeks earlier than ours, so at the beginning it felt novel and quirky. After a few weeks, though, we all joined them in isolation and it took on a decidedly stronger, “we’re all in this together” tone. The show was mentioned in The New Yorker this week, and is truly a delight to watch. I do this nightly, right before bed, even though it runs live closer to lunchtime here in San Francisco. It’s a good reminder that we’re not experiencing isolation in isolation… and also to “Wash. Your. Hands.”
As always, thanks for reading.
Expedite is produced by Kristen Hawley, a San Francisco-based journalist with over six years of experience covering the restaurant technology industry. Previous iterations of this content were available via Chefs+Tech and Skift Table. Thanks for reading.
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