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Grubhub Adds ‘Common Sense’ Step to Protect Restaurants From Its Unfair Fees

Plus, wine sellers are comparing Trump’s tariffs to Prohibition, and more news to start your day

A person checking their Grubhub delivery status on their phone. Photo via Grubhub
Jaya Saxena is a Correspondent at, and the series editor of Best American Food Writing. She explores wide ranging topics like labor, identity, and food culture.

The delivery service is adding a “common sense step” to phone ordering

Last year, a Philadelphia restauranteur filed a lawsuit against Grubhub, alleging the delivery service charged restaurants for phone calls that weren’t even food orders. Grubhub takes a cut of all its restaurants’ orders, and its phone ordering system sets up a proxy number for each restaurant, which is displayed on its Grubhub delivery page. Though the company claimed it had a “statistical model” to determine which calls were orders and which were just, say, people calling about order statuses or with questions about the restaurant, restaurateurs say the model doesn’t work, and that Grubhub made it difficult to obtain transcripts to dispute charges.

Yesterday, Grubhub announced that it would create a new step in the phone ordering process, asking callers to dial #1 for orders and #2 for everything else. The new plan is a result of a New York City Council hearing regarding the fees charged to restaurants by services like Grubhub and Uber Eats, and resulted in the demand that Grubhub hire a third-party evaluator. “This straight-forward feature will not be the sole factor in determining whether to charge a food order commission; diner intent will be an additional input into our proprietary multi-factor process,” Grubhub said in a letter to NYCC.

However, Grubhub still only allows restaurant owners to review phone records up to 120 days old. City Councilmember Mark Gjonaj says, “there is nothing in the proposed changes that would make whole the thousands of restaurants that have already paid for what in many cases were erroneous phone order fees,” and others say it shouldn’t have taken Grubhub so long to implement changes that protected restaurants.

Grubhub has come under fire recently for a host of questionable practices, including setting up proxy websites for its partner restaurants (which it says it can do per its contracts), and adding restaurants that never agreed to partner to its site, even if the restaurant doesn’t want to offer delivery.

And in other news...

  • U.S. wine sellers say Trump’s 100% tariffs on European wines are going to run them out of business. [BBC News]
  • Taco Bell is testing out paying some general managers $100k a year, and introduced a new sick leave policy, in order to enhance employee performance and retention. [NRN]
  • After the bankruptcy of two U.S. milk processors, the dairy industry is figuring out how to survive. [CNN]
  • In America we conflate garlic with Italian food, but in Italy the flavor is much more divisive. [Taste]
  • (Cue the Dead Kennedy’s “This Could Be Anywhere”) All the coolest, most exclusive cocktail bars are opening up more locations. [Insidehook]
  • Today in mad libs: Sylvester Stallone took Al Pacino to meet Guy Fieri. [Twitter]
  • Would you like to stay in a cheese hotel? [Delish]
  • Happy Friday, go argue about french fry alignment.