About a dozen restaurants have signed on with Uber Eats in the first week of the on-demand food delivery service in Springfield.
Uber, the smartphone application connecting drivers and riders, launched its latest platform in Springfield on Nov. 15, and now the service operates in roughly 100 markets.
Uber representative Charity Jackson said the company expects the food options will continue to grow – as it has in Kansas City and St. Louis where over 25 restaurants are on board for each city, according to its website.
“We have a dedicated sales team working continuously,” she said. “Just because there aren’t many right now, doesn’t mean there won’t be more options later.”
Uber Eats, which is promoted as available 24/7, works similarly to the ride-hailing service using the app or on the Uber Eats website.
“We’re thrilled to launch today in Springfield to connect local residents and visitors with new, tasty options, add new earning opportunities for driver-partners and help local restaurant owners expand the reach of their business,” Uber Eats Missouri General Manager Avram Rampersaud said in a Nov. 15 news release.
Rampersaud could not be reached by Springfield Business Journal by deadline.
Uber Eats comes to the Queen City about one year after San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc. started its transportation services in Springfield. According to SBJ reporting, Uber entered the Springfield market Nov. 17, 2016.
Businesses signed on include Aviary Cafe and Creperie, Village Inn, Druff’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Pasta Express.
After downloading the app, users can enter their current address and select a meal directly from the menus of local eateries. Special instructions also can be added.
“We actually have an iPad that’s dedicated specifically for receiving Uber Eats orders,” Eurasia Coffee and Tea employee Amber McGuire said.
Uber Eats issues the iPad to restaurants that sign up for a starter kit, Jackson said. She said there is no charge for the kit, but restaurants are billed an undisclosed partnering fee.
“The tablet comes loaded up with everything they need, then someone from the Eats team will deliver it to show the restaurant how it works,” Jackson said.
McGuire said the iPad is now kept handy at all times inside Eurasia.
“It lets us know an estimated arrival time, and then we have a little designated area for Uber Eats orders for pickup,” she said.
On the user end, customers can track an order as it is received, prepared and delivered to their door.
“We think people really love that experience,” Jackson said.
McGuire said Eurasia processed a half-dozen orders in its first week on Uber Eats. She expects to see more when social media promotions are in place.
“We won’t promote it there, until everything is nailed down with our product photography,” McGuire said, noting an Uber representative plans to visit soon to take pictures of the restaurant’s menu items.
Word is quickly spreading among Aviary Cafe clientele.
“I’m looking at around 20 orders for this location,” said Zackh Tucker, an employee at the downtown cafe.
“It hasn’t really impacted our daily lives here, but we are seeing an increase in orders,” Tucker added. “I don’t know how many of those orders would have come in without Uber Eats. I can only imagine the increase is due solely to that.”
Both Eurasia and Aviary Cafe did not have a delivery service in place before Uber Eats.
Uber Eats also recently rolled out its services in Kansas City in late September and in St. Louis just days before the Springfield launch.
“We’re really excited about those markets,” Jackson said, noting Uber Eats is not currently looking at other cities in Missouri.
Springfield also has two other known food delivery services: QuikDine.com Inc., which takes orders online, and Lightning Delivery, which takes orders online or through its own phone application.
“It’s always good to have competition,” Lightning Delivery owner Jason Green said. “It helps set a standard in the community that we can try to remain above.”
Green said there’s enough opportunity for the three businesses in the market. Lightning Delivery currently is partnered with 18 local eateries.
QuikDine, the veteran in the market, launched 18 years ago.
Tensions increased when QuikDine’s owner Randy Ruggeri bought the rights to LightningDelivery.com in 2012.
A third-party arbitrator decided in 2015 to award the domain to Green who followed by suing QuikDine for trademark infringement and lost profits. Ruggeri’s insurance company settled the case out of court for $80,000.
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