Grocery delivery became a lifeline for many people during the coronavirus pandemic, but now some Massachusetts restaurants are concerned about fees that could rise.
At Krueger Flatbread in Haverhill, they are made with third-party suppliers.
“It just didn’t make financial sense for us to give away 30 percent of the bill,” said General Manager Jason Petrou. “We cut them off completely.”
Even when the state capped fees at 15 percent because of the pandemic, Petrou said it was just too much as the restaurant tried to survive.
“Honestly, I think it dug up the restaurants that are already being run on very thin margins,” he said.
Now that business is improving, he would consider bringing the delivery companies back, but only if fees remain limited.
But the caps are expected to expire in mid-June when the state of emergency in Massachusetts officially ends.
“If it was not okay to drive price gouging during the shutdown, then it is not okay to drive these restaurants immediately after the state of emergency is lifted,” said State Senator Diana DiZoglio, who wants to extend the caps by two years but so far the legislation has failed several times.
“There are very powerful lobbyists on Beacon Hill who work hard, who represent DoorDash, who represent Grubhub and these other third party delivery fee providers,” said Dizoglio.
In a statement, DoorDash said in part that it “has always supported restaurants in Massachusetts. Price controls result in fewer orders for restaurants and lost income for dashers.”
DoorDash said its new pricing structure allows local “restaurants to choose a pricing plan with a delivery commission rate of only 15%, with the ability to add additional services and options.”
The company also said it always strives to “work with policy makers on solutions that really support restaurants”.
And GrubHub said in part that “fee caps are arbitrary price controls and just the wrong thing when restaurants need more support, visibility and order volume than ever before.”
“Any fee cap – regardless of duration – creates harmful, unintended consequences for local businesses, delivery workers, guests and the local economy,” the statement said. “As the Commonwealth emerges from the pandemic and restaurants can reopen their doors, these controls affect the restaurants’ ability to get back on their feet.”
Paola Gonzalez of Casa Blanca in Haverhill says take-away and delivery make up about 40 percent of the business.
She doesn’t like the fees, but the numerous delivery companies the restaurant uses are critical just to break even.
“This is how you can survive,” said Gonzalez. “This is how everything works with the third party.”
DiZoglio says she plans to reintroduce the law later this week.