Economy & Business

NYC Is Now Going After Food Delivery Services

GrubHub CEO Matt Maloney applauds after ringing the opening bell before the company’s IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York April 4, 2014. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
I, for one, would prefer to continue surviving off of food that is brought to my door — so leave these businesses, and me, alone. 

First, New York state took away my mango-flavored Juul pods. Now the New York City Council wants to crack down on food delivery, and I have got to admit: I am starting to feel personally attacked.

Apparently, the council believes that Grubhub needs to be limited because it is bad for NYC’s restaurant businesses.

Yep — innovation be damned. To hell with the future, to hell with progress, and to hell with technology. Sure, being able to order anything from sushi to pierogi at 3 a.m. on a Wednesday and eat it in your pajamas while watching reruns of Forensic Files might be one of the only, like, four reasons left to live in this stinking, godforsaken, tax-grabbing hellhole, but let’s just do away with it, anyway!

“I would love for Grubhub to do the right thing and do more,” Mark Gjonaj, chairman of the council’s small-business committee, said in an article in the New York Times. “If they don’t, we’re going to be looking at serious legislation as we move forward that will make this a much more fair playing field.”

“Fair”? Gjonaj, do not even talk to me about “fair.” If anything in this city were fair, I wouldn’t have to work constantly, in multiple high-pressure jobs, to afford to live in an apartment that’s stricken with such pervasive pestilence that it would make everyone from the Old Testament squirm. If it were fair, I wouldn’t have to pay so much of that money that I work so hard to earn to you guys, and not even get to decide what you spend it on. If it were fair, I wouldn’t have to consistently see people urinating just because I’d made the decision to go outside.

Still, Gjonaj said he’s bothered by the 15–to–30 percent commission rates that delivery apps like GrubHub (and Postmates, and Uber Eats, and DoorDash) charge, and he (along with other business-busting busybodies) wants to swoop in and change that. In fact, as noted in an article in Reason, a recent New York State Liquor Authority agenda revealed that the organization proposed making it illegal for delivery services to charge more than a 10 percent commission.

The problem, according to Gjonaj (and others intent on ruining my life), is that restaurant margins are only somewhere between 3 and 6 percent. The delivery services, they argue, are simply taking too much money away from the restaurants, and limiting their cut would limit their power — thereby driving more people to actually go out and dine in the establishments they’d otherwise be ordering from, which would let those restaurants earn all that extra money.

Here’s the thing, though: Like many of the government’s brilliant ideas, this one actually might not have the result that it’s intending. As Reason notes, only 19 percent of people in a recent survey said they used delivery apps instead of going out to a restaurant, with 67 percent saying they were doing so instead of cooking. In other words: The government’s idea to help restaurants get more money by eliminating or reducing the delivery fees might actually result in people eliminating or reducing restaurants, and just cooking instead. I know I probably would. Sure, I barely know how to use a microwave now, but I’m sure I could learn, and would learn, because I much prefer to be at home with my cat than out and about as often as possible — and, of course, NYC has already banned me from bringing him around.

Oh, and one more thing: As Reason notes, the SLA’s no–more–than–10-percent rule would apply only to restaurants that have liquor licenses. Any restaurant without one would have to apply (and pay) for one in order to be included — another cost that it wouldn’t have to worry about dealing with had the government just let things be as they are.

In short: This is a stupid, tyrannical idea, and New York City should abandon it immediately. It could end up costing restaurants more business and more money, and even if it doesn’t? Well, not to be an ass, but so what? You still haven’t convinced me that it’s somehow the government’s job to arbitrarily decide who succeeds and who fails.

We already have a system in place to determine which businesses should survive: It’s called “capitalism.” It’s called “supply and demand,” and it’s the only surefire way to ensure that the ones that do survive are the ones that consumers want to survive. And do you know what? I, for one, would prefer to continue surviving off of food that is brought to my door — so leave it, and me, alone.

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