Uber Disrupts the Food Delivery Business Because Of Course It Does

pork shoulder flickr

The world is not lacking in food delivery services. There’s Eat24, Seamless, GrubHub, Postmates, you could probably find a TaskRabbit willing to bring you food, and then there are of course the restaurants that do their own delivery. If you live in an urban area, you probably have food delivery covered.

But hey, Uber is getting into the food delivery business, because why wouldn’t it? We are, after all, preparing for the future Karl Taro Greenfeld wrote about in The Subprimes, in which Uber leads transportation the way Amazon leads retail.

Uber began testing UberEATS about a a year ago in Los Angeles, but it started ramping up its promotion this August and expanding into multiple cities—including Seattle, where it officially opened this Wednesday.

What’s the hook? Well, UberEATS aims to set itself apart from the grubby food delivery hubs of the internet by providing curated menus and limited choices—and by creating anticipation and demand for these choices days in advance.

I mean, Uber did get that right. A lot of us love to think about what we’re going to eat, and a lot of morning daydreams include carefully planning the perfect lunch order. Imagine if you could start thinking about this Friday’s “porchetta roasted with parsley, fennel and rosemary, served with salsa verde on fresh ciabatta” right now.

The porchetta sandwich costs $10, and no, it does not come with a side—although Thursday’s $8.50 “slow roasted pulled pork, Skillet’s housemade BBQ sauce, arugula and pickled shallots” does come with a side of “fried corn on the cob sprinkled with hot sauce, parmesan and cilantro.”

All of these curated menus come from local restaurants, which means your UberEATS menu might look very different from mine. Uber also includes a Fare Split feature so you and your coworkers can all put in one lunch order—which will arrive within 10 minutes, it promises.

This must mean that Uber drivers spend the lunch hour with a bunch of curated, pre-packaged food already sitting in their car, right? Otherwise, how are they going to get the food to you in 10 minutes—especially when you want the salad trio from Volunteer Park Cafe and your co-worker wants the Caribbean roast sandwich from Paseo? Eventually, of course, all of these cars will be driverless, not to mention climate-controlled so that your slow-roasted Caribbean pork shoulder stays at the perfect temperature.

Until that glorious, driverless day, should you tip? As Uber puts it: “No need to tip. The best way to thank your driver is with a 5-star rating.”


Photo credit: Simon Doggett



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