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Amazon Launches Restaurant Delivery in Baltimore

The retail giant is moving swiftly ahead with plans to compete in the hot food delivery space.

Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

Amazon Prime members in Baltimore are now able to order restaurant delivery using the retail giant's Prime Now service. Over 50 restaurants in 10 zip codes in and around downtown Baltimore have signed up for the launch; Amazon's team plans to add more restaurants in coming weeks.

For a limited time, users are also able to take advantage of the service's one-hour delivery option for free. Amazon says most deliveries will take an hour or less anyway, but the offer is clearly a way to incentivize existing Amazon users to sign up for Prime.

Amazon began testing restaurant delivery back in August. The trial was internal, and only for its employees in Seattle. One month later, Amazon announced it was publicly launching the service to all residents in Seattle, though delivery zones were limited. Last month, Amazon confirmed plans to bring its Prime Now restaurant delivery to more than 20 cities across the U.S. The service also launched in L.A. last month.

Because so many people already use Amazon as a one-stop shop, it isn't too far of a leap to ask customers to order dinner to be delivered after renting a movie on Amazon's streaming service. Amazon Prime members pay an annual fee of $99 to receive free two-day delivery, stream videos and music, and order groceries through Amazon Fresh. Amazon Prime Now delivery customers can use the same payment information they have stored in their account to order restaurant delivery, so it's one less app to set up. But will Prime users balk at having to pay an additional fee for restaurant delivery?

Amazon says it offers customers "transparent pricing," meaning there are no service fees or hidden costs tacked onto menu prices.  Amazon's Prime Now app mimics some of the best features of competitive services, including delivery giant Seamless/Grubhub, the rapidly expanding Postmates, and the upstart UberEats: Users can search by type of food, look through menus, and track their delivery driver's progress on a map from restaurant to their door.

A partial list of Baltimore's participating restaurants:

· Acropolis Restaurant
· Amiccis
· B Doughnut
· Brewer's Cask
· Ceriello Fine Italian Foods
· Cheese Galore and More
· City Cafe
· Donna's
· Duda's Tavern
· Falafelicious
· Felici Café
· HomeSlyce
· Ikaros Restaurant
· Indigma
· Jukai Juice
· La Cuchara
· La Tavola
· Langermann's
· Maiwand Grill
· Mario's Original Pizza
· Pasticcio Italian Kitchen
· Peace & A Cup of Joe
· Pizza Mart
· Poblano Mexican Grill
· Roberto's Pizzeria Italiana
· Saturday Morning Cafe
· Soprano's Pizza
· Souvlaki Authentic Greek Cuisine
· The Local Fry
· Van Gough Cafe
· Verde
· West Indian Flavour
· Zaatar Mediterranean Cuisine

Regional managers within a restaurant department at Amazon service the app and logistics. Customer service is handled through Amazon's central customer service chat and call centers.

Amazon's restaurant delivery service is part of a dual-pronged mission. The company hopes it will encourage more existing users to sign up for its Prime service. The second part of Amazon's plan is straightforward: It sees an opportunity to expand into the restaurant delivery sphere, and, naturally, turn a profit.

Update 12/3; 12:19 p.m.: This post has been updated. A previous version stated that Amazon would charge a $7.99 delivery fee. Amazon has not confirmed they would charge a delivery fee and trials in Seattle, L.A., and Baltimore offer free delivery.

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