Grubhub's takeover is complete

Just Eat Takeaway's acquisition of Grubhub closed this week, a year after it was first announced.

Just Eat Takeaway completed its acquisition of Grubhub on Tuesday, just over a year after the deal was announced. “I have always believed that the combination of, Just Eat and Grubhub is a winning combination. The new company is the market leader in Europe, Canada and Australia, with very strong positions in the most important markets in the United States,” Jitse Groen, founder and CEO of Just Eat said in a statement. 

As part of the deal, Grubhub founder Matt Maloney join’s Just Eat Takeaway’s management board and former Grubhub chief financial officer Adam DeWitt becomes the company’s CEO. The company is headquartered in Amsterdam; its U.S headquarters will be in Chicago, home of Grubhub HQ. 

At the same time, Grubhub has launched a new U.S. marketing campaign titled “we serve restaurants.” At its core, a one-minute national television ad:

Per the company’s press release, “This initiative marks a return to Grubhub’s roots, helping restaurants build business by leveraging digital tools to enhance diner relationships and drive demand.” This return-to-our-roots messaging has come up a few times in the weeks leading up to Just Eat Takeaway’s Grubhub acquisition. This is notable, because it could signal a move away from the delivery-as-a-service model championed by DoorDash and Uber Eats. Grubhub started as a marketing platform for restaurants, allowing them to accept online orders for delivery, but most restaurants used their own couriers. 

In fact, Grubhub never seemed all that interested in competing on delivery logistics and other new practices pioneered by the disruptive, venture capital-fueled later entrants into the market. When California banned the practice of listing restaurants on third-party platforms without their consent, for example, Grubhub issued a statement in support of the initiative. Of course, it had recently come under fire for doing just that, a practice that started with companies like Postmates and Uber Eats but had come to become industry standard as a growth mechanism.

Grubhub’s latest marketing move isn’t much different from recent campaigns from DoorDash and Uber Eats, all professing love for local businesses and a need to support them. The company recently announced a new option for independent restaurants, templated direct ordering websites

Expect more of this messaging, and probably some product changes, too. Grubhub says to expect more soon, and that the company plans to “prioritize the important restaurant-diner relationship.” 

Our streamlined, automated, branded future

Is the evolution of family-owned Chinese takeout in America a new semi-automated fast casual chain? Junzi Kitchen, a four-unit Chinese restaurant company, has a new brand, and it’s taking aim at the 40,000 delivery- and takeout-focused Chinese restaurants in the U.S.

As flagged by Hngry’s Matt Newberg in a recent Wall Street Journal piece, Nice Day, a fast casual brand from the team behind Junzi, is looking to buy out business owners who are close to retirement, replacing local, often family-run businesses with a network of tech-enabled restaurants. (Automated woks could triple output per worker, according to the WSJ piece.) 

In the process, a 166-dish menu is replaced by just 35. Specials include something called mapo mac and cheese. (This maybe feels a little bit like the @pizza-ificiation of a new restaurant category, no?) 

Of course, the journey to 40,000 starts with just a few restaurants, and right now Nice Day operates in Manhattan and, soon, Long Island where it will soon take over a business once called Gourmet Wok. 

Disadvantaging the disadvantaged

When the Restaurant Revitalization Fund started accepting applications in May, women, military veterans and “socially and economically disadvantaged” individuals were prioritized for the first three weeks. Now, many in that group are in limbo after white restaurant owners sued, claiming discrimination. Several judges agreed, and the Small Business Association, which is in charge of the fund, stopped payments on priority applications, revoking the approval of 2,965 business owners as it completes processing previously filed non-priority applications. 

- Danielle Hyams

What else is happening? 

Yelp says restaurants are recovering. At least, that’s what Yelp Reservations data shows. According to a report released this week, restaurants sat more diners using Yelp’s reservation service than ever — over 3.7 million diners seated via Yelp in May 2021 – the highest ever, even before the pandemic. 

Speaking of Yelp, the anti-maskers are at it. A recent piece in the MIT Technology Review highlights false reviews flooding the system for bars and restaurants that require proof of vaccination status. This isn’t a new problem and isn’t something Yelp takes lightly. When I reported on a similar phenomenon for Insider in October — an admittedly very different time in the pandemic — Yelp reiterated its zero tolerance policy for false reviews. Since then, it’s also revamped its own software to detect and prevent false reviews based on news events (like, say, vaccines) from impacting a restaurant’s rating. The Technology Review piece has the full story. 

Companies like Uber are working to cement drivers’ contract status. After pouring hundreds of millions into California’s Proposition 22, companies who profit from the gig economy seem to be open to some negotiation in order to maintain their fleets’ contractor status. This is important news to follow as it could have a lasting effect on the future of restaurant delivery labor. 

Bringg, a delivery platform provider, raised $100 million in Series E funding. The company, which says it helps business scale delivery, has worked with Panera on its white-label ordering system. 

Chipotle is the exclusive limited-service restaurant partner for Twitch. Okay, sure! Chipotle is a partner on a Twitch channel, and will also host its own game, “Chipotle Build Your Own PC.” Chipotle has about 74,000 followers on its Twitch stream, per Nation’s Restaurant News

An Uber Eats driver cries over $1.19 tip in heartbreaking viral video. Consumers were reminded of the harsh realities — and the onus put on them to compensate — of driving for companies like Uber Eats and DoorDash after a video of a delivery man crying after receiving a $1.19 tip following an hour drive went viral, with more than 1 million views. 

- DH

And, a pair of restaurant tech acquisitions last week: Point-of-sale provider Toast announced it had acquired XtraChef, an inventory management platform. (The company even sent its newest employees some co-branded swag.) Then, Restaurant365, a restaurant management platform, announced it acquired Compeat, a different restaurant management platform. The combined companies will serve close to 30,000 restaurants.