FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A new world was created for restaurants Monday after Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced dining rooms would be closed to the public across the state. Take-out and delivery would still be allowed to operate.
The move was made in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus COVID-19. It was a decision that was made by neighboring states and others across the country over the weekend and forced restaurant owners to figure out how to operate in a way like never before.
“It’s been pretty hectic lately, honestly,” Derek Berkes from Waiter on the Way told WANE 15.
Specializing in delivering food from restaurants that don’t have their own drivers, the staff at Waiter on the Way has been anticipating a spike in business for the coming days. While the business has been shifting focus on keeping equipment, vehicles and drivers clean, they’re seeing noteworthy changes in the relationships with the restaurants they work with.
According to Berkes, Waiter on the Way has been in contact with new businesses who want to use the service after the decision came down Monday.
They’re also seeing a change in how the delivery process works. Some restaurants are bringing the food out to the cars, as opposed to delivery drivers going inside the businesses. Menus and hours are being cut down.
While restaurant staff loses out on tips from tables, Waiter on the Way is adding an option for tipping those workers through online orders.
Around Fort Wayne since 1991, Waiter on the Way has about 50 drivers. According to Berkes, about 20 drivers are working the day shift, about 30 are handling the evening. Adjustments could be made depending on demand and cutbacks on restaurant operating hours. He shared the business’s cleaning efforts on social media.
Waiter on the Way does see competition from food delivery apps like GrubHub, Uber Eats and DoorDash, but touts itself as a local business that can be trusted more.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep it super tight, when it comes to being clean,” Berkes added, “so [restaurants and customers] can trust us.”
Other food delivery apps make changes
According to a blog post by DoorDash CEO Tony Xu Tuesday, the company has started the process to deliver more than one million sets of hand sanitizer and gloves to drivers. The main order page for the app has also been updated, giving customers the option to request a no-contact delivery drop-off.
Starting with major cities across the country, Grubhub has suspended collecting commission payments from independent restaurants.
“Independent restaurants are the lifeblood of our cities and feed our communities,” Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney said in a press release. “They have been amazing long-term partners for us, and we wanted to help them in their time of need.”
Home cooked meal delivery delays possible
The relatively new trend of cooking at home with food delivered to the door has also been affected by the strain of closing restaurant dining rooms.
Meal delivery service Home Chef has alerted customers that “capacity challenges” could limit delivery for the week.
Meanwhile, the CEO of popular service HelloFresh addressed the COVID-19 concerns Monday while saying in a statement the company is working to ensure the “no-contact deliveries stay dependable and consistent.”