Westchester County says third party delivery firms can no longer gouge local restaurants with impunity during the Covid pandemic.
It’s a blessed measure of relief according to local restauranteurs. “I appreciate it, the fees are very high,” said Fabian Gallardo the chef and owner at La La Taqueria in Larchmont.
Gallardo says learning that the Westchester County Board of Legislators had just capped the fees third party delivery services like Grubhub, Uber Eats, Doordash and others can tack on to the price of online food orders gave him some hope for weathering the cold months.
“I dropped Uber Eats because of the fees,” he told the Loop Friday. The services routinely charge between 17% and 30% squeezing the already Covid-thin profit margins for “mom and pop” restaurants that don’t have the power to negotiate fairer deals.
Legislator Catherine Parker of Rye, the law’s chief sponsor, says she learned of the need for relief while acting as co-chair of the Westchester County Reopening Task Force. “With occupancy restrictions limiting how many customers our local restaurants can serve on premises,” Parker explained. “Takeout orders have become essential. That will be even more true this Fall and winter when outdoor dining may be less practical.
The legislation caps delivery fees at 15% and other service fees at 5% for an all-inclusive cap of 20%. The law mirrors what New York City enacted back in May and prohibits the service companies from reducing compensation rates to drivers or garnishing their tips as a way to make up the difference.
The Business Council of Westchester had high praise for the county’s move thanking it “for understanding that outside-the-box solutions to help small businesses have to be a priority in these times,” according to Executive Vice President John Ravitz. The legislation is temporary, in that it applies only during a declared emergency and sunsets 90 days after the end of the emergency declaration.
Casey Eagan, the owner of Emma’s Ale House in White Plains and the President of the Westchester chapter of the New York Restaurant Association said the law will “provide some shelter for us in the storm coming for restaurants this Winter.”