Given the range of food delivery options available these days, it's a wonder many of us leave our apartments at all. And here comes another one: Last fall ChowNow, an online ordering and payment platform for restaurants, announced it was teaming up with UberRUSH — the delivery and courier arm of wildly popular driver-on-demand service Uber — to offer food delivery for its restaurant clients in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. While the beta phase included just a handful of restaurants in each city, beginning today any restaurant in those three markets will be able to sign up for delivery service via ChowNow.
As previously noted back in October, this partnership is intended to offer restaurants a plug-and-play solution for offering delivery to customers — drastically simplifying something that's often considered a "pain point" for restaurants, as ChowNow founder and CEO Chris Webb put it. Rather than having to staff, pay, insure, and manage delivery drivers — or handle an additional relationship with one of the many third-party delivery services — restaurants who are already using ChowNow only have to flip a proverbial switch to begin using UberRUSH's experienced delivery fleet to get their food to customers.
"The initial test period in Chicago, New York and San Francisco proved quite successful and we’re really pleased with the results," says Webb. "We’ve been working closely with UberRUSH drivers and helping to train them on the sensitivities of handling and delivering food, which is fundamentally different from handling other goods."
But UberRUSH drivers aren't the same ones responsible for shuttling humans from place to place, meaning your takeout pho won't be facing surge pricing during Uber's busiest periods. And the ChowNow delivery platform allows its restaurant clients to customize options based on its needs — so if a restaurant knows that its steak frites can't travel more than 15 minutes or so without wilting in a takeout box, it can set a delivery radius of say, two miles.
ChowNow differs from its competitors — apps such as GrubHub, Seamless, Postmates, and Caviar — by customizing its mobile and web ordering applications for each restaurant, meaning that instead of going to ChowNow to order, hungry customers can instead go through individual restaurants' sites or apps. Besides its forward-thinking partnership with Uber's courier service, the LA-based company was also the first food delivery app to accept Google Wallet and Apple Pay, putting it squarely on the forefront of the food delivery sphere.
Of course, this isn't Uber's first foray into food delivery: In Summer 2014 the company launched UberEATS (originally called UberFRESH), a service integrated into its existing app offering on-demand lunch delivery in 15 minutes or less; it's now available in a dozen cities. And in December it rolled out a standalone UberEATS app; currently only serving Toronto, it expands on the original UberEATS model by offering all-day delivery from more than 100 restaurants.