Not the Onion: New UberEATS Option Lets You Eat in a Restaurant

UberEATS, the service that delivers food from restaurants, already delivers food from restaurants that don’t exist. Now they’re testing a new service that lets you order food through their app and then eat it at the restaurant. So far the concept of using Uber to eat in a restaurant is being tested in Austin, Dallas, Tucson, and San Diego.

  • Since you aren’t getting the food delivered, the service “waives the standard delivery and service fees that Uber Eats usually charges”

  • However there are reports of customers being charged higher prices for ordering ahead through the app, presumably to offset whatever slice of revenue the restaurant is taking when you don’t order direct.

  • You can tip through the app and Uber says they don’t keep any of that money.

Uber’s dine in option doesn’t even let you order an Uber to get to the restaurant at this point, so it doesn’t seem quite fully baked.

Although one argument for using the service, I suppose, would be Uber’s new rewards program. Even if the food is a bit more expensive, at the end of your six month status qualifying period you might need to make an UberEATS run even when you planned to eat at a restaurant rather than order for delivery. Plus it may be another option to use American Express Platinum Uber credits.

GrubHub already offers this, and there are several out of the box software packages that let restaurants manage this themselves and offer pre-order on their websites.

The benefit here, it seems, is simply Uber’s installed customer base. It’s one app and customers may be searching for where to eat through their phones, the way OpenTable is able to charge a premium over Resy because they’re not just reservations management they’re also eyeballs to sell to restaurants (in much the same way that Expedia sells eyeballs to hotels).

Outside of eyeballs there’s little value to justify their fees. And I’d think the market here is small. If you’re actually going to go to a restaurant and you’re trying to eat quickly (which is why you want to pre-order) you probably know where you’re going and it’s some place close.

Two years ago American Express ran a popup where you’d order food to be delivered and eat it in their restaurant. That seems like a concept Uber could try next: WeWork for Dining.

Credit: heidijosefiina

Otherwise Uber’s next dining innovation may wind up being call ahead seating. Although I still think there may be more potential in delivering pizzas to Nigeria.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Yes it’s a small market but actually a very attractive proposal for business travelers who work in teams. I can’t tell you the number of times some poor analyst gets stuck calling restaurants to see if they would be willing to take an order before and have the food ready for the team. Obviously not going to go global or penetrate deep into markets, but enough for them to test. I’m usually a skeptic, but this is an actual desired service, if for nothing else than having a precleared list of restaurants that won’t balk at the idea. Have to imagine one of the hundreds of former consultants and bankers who work for them now came up with it after not having the option available when they needed it.

  2. Uber support has been unable to explain to me how one orders takeout from Uber Eats but they also won’t admit it’s not possible. The website seems to suggest it’s a thing but the app (or online) doesn’t seem to allow it. It seems like an easy step to move into Grubhub/Doordash territory; I don’t know why they don’t make it work. It would be the preferred way for me to use my $15 credits.

  3. It sounds funny. But I was talking with my dad about a similar concept the other day. “Phone ahead, take-away” has long been a concept. So has “sit your ass down. Wait. Order from a menu. Wait some more. Now eat.” I actually would like a middle ground — when I decide I’m hungry and want to eat with minimal wait, the most optimal way to reach that objective is to order ahead of time, show up, grab the food, sit down and eat it. If I’m going to McD’s and know I want a Big Mac with fries, I think it would be great to pop open the app, order it, drive over, pick it up, sit down, and eat. McDs probably offers that already, but I could see this extending to other restaurants.

    There may be a bigger market for this stuff than one may think.

  4. I think this is mostly fast casual restaurants where you pick up your food on a tray anyway. So you’re just skipping the annoying cash register part. This way you get directly to the part of the counter where someone yells “Order for Gary? Do you want more ketchup? Here’s an extra spork. Enjoy.”

    This is essentially what people already do on the Taco Bell or McDonald’s app, so it makes sense for Uber to offer it to quick service restaurants that can’t make that IT investment.

    I don’t totally understand why this is funny to you, but I respect your ability to amuse yourself.

  5. @Dan McDonald app allows you to do exactly what you described. However, they won’t start putting together the order until you are close to the restaurant.

  6. Definitely a great idea. You’d expect it to be a little more since there’s a middleman facilitating the process.

    – Reduced Lines
    – Increased Order Accuracy
    – Faster checkout (payment stored)
    – Less Wait Time (food potentially ready on arrival)
    – Less Apps/Websites to Use (one user friendly app w/ stored payment vs. loading individual restaurant mobile websites/apps)
    – Easy to Split the Bill (assumption, I believe you can split Uber rides)

  7. I use my amex uber credits almost exclusively for uber eats for lunches at work just to use them up. There are places that I would normally walk to but I want to use the credit so I order it delivered but I would love a carryout option that eliminates the delivery fee.

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