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Pandemic food ordering can be costly if you aren’t aware of certain fees

Different options on take out and delivery costs affect meals to-go
Restaurant scene
John Palminteri
Restaurants going to all take-out during the pandemic remind customers to save a few dollars with direct pick up.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The return to all take-out food orders at restaurants on the Central Coast will throw customers back about six months when we went through this early on in the pandemic.

For those who did not learn back then, they will be reminded of the process to get an order delivered from the restaurant to their front door. For some, it is not their normal way to get a meal.

Restaurant owners have their posted menu prices, but after that, there are a variety of fees that could impact the bottom line before you even have a bite of food.

Picking up the order in person is the most cost efficient way to get your food, under the current conditions.

With a door deliver from one of the several services available there could be tacked on charges including the delivery fee, a surge fee for peak hours, a service fee and a delivery minimum.

Most restaurants are using a third-party service, which means it is not their employees or cars moving the food from the kitchen to your outstretched arms at the front door.

It was estimated by industry analysts, in March and April the food delivery demands went up 40%.

At Oppi'z Italian restaurant on State Street downtown, Guido Oppizzi says he has several services listing his menu for delivery. Each comes with a different charge. He has continued to look at many options for his customers to choose on how they want to get their food.

Recently he has been using a system called Say 2 Eat. It is launched directly through the Oppi'z web page. The charges are modest compared to others.

Oppizzi says "from our side, the commission, the cost for us it will be much lower and thus it will help us  survive better  in this time. "

He says some of the services were adding on substantial fees beyond what he believes a customer was expecting. " We can not handle it anymore for us to pay 25 to 37 percent  commission  now as we have with some of the vendors, which is what some of the vendors are doing on deliveries. It's killing us."

He has adjusted his menu to handle the take-out demand and expects to see more orders coming in that earlier this year when the first phase of the virus hit.

"Now I think there is a combined effect that will be higher that it was in the first part of the pandemic," said Oppizzi.

Customers have many choices for food delivery in Santa Barbara including The Santa Barbara Restaurant Connection, Gubhub, Postmates, and Door Dash.

The State St. promenade has eliminated pick up spots in front of his business, but "we have our back door. We can drop the food (into a car), and they can drive away without stepping out from the car."

He's hoping holiday gifts from businesses include dinners and different types of get togethers.  He suggests ordering the food and having a zoom holiday party.     

For those still out of the house enjoying the unusually dry weather, watch for restaurants to serve up other ideas.

"We will try to design a new item item like a family box or a picnic box because now a days you either eat at home or you go to a park," said Oppizzi.

Monday, several customers downtown were walking take out bags from restaurants that remained open.

Keeping the doors open also gives employees a chance to get some hours in when they would be sidelined by the drop in business.

Outside dining had become popular for many restaurants when the promenade opened. More string lighting, creative service ideas and colorful landscaping additions had been added.

The Thursday evening marketplace is going to continue through December 17 . It adds to the foot traffic and may help with food orders from the area restaurants in person. The vendors are set up between Canon Perdido St. and Figueroa.

For more information go to : Oppi'z or Say 2 Eat

Article Topic Follows: Money and Business

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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