Delivery apps like Grubhub, DoorDash list restaurants without permission, creating problems for owners

Some Milwaukee restaurant owners are upset with delivery apps like Grubhub and DoorDash, which have added restaurants to their platform without asking permission. 

The Vanguard in Bay View began to have problems late last week, when it received multiple calls from customers who were upset over canceled orders that The Vanguard never knew existed. 

A spokesperson from Grubhub told the Journal Sentinel the company decided it would add restaurants not already on the platform. Grubhub determined local restaurants’ hours and menu items from information available online.

Some restaurant owners said they found outdated menus, and Grubhub was promoting delivery for at least one closed establishment, Kindred in Bay View. 

Chris Schulist, co-owner of Vanguard, said, “We thought it was just a mistake, and then it happened again on Saturday and then it was on Sunday when we got a few more calls saying ‘where’s our food?’ They’re putting menu items we don’t have … the customer doesn’t know that, so it creates problems for us.” 

Odd Duck also noticed over the weekend that it had been added to Grubhub, according to owner Melissa Buchholz. 

“It can hurt our business because we rely so much on word of mouth,” Buchholz said. “Even if a host is talking to a delivery driver, explaining why we cant fulfill an order for food we don’t have, for a delivery we didn’t want to do, instead of paying attention to our customers in our restaurant, that’s not good for business.” 

Vanguard partners with the app UberEats for delivery service because the app allows restaurants to easily change menu items or turn off delivery for a period of time.

“Everyone in the restaurant comes first. If it’s a busy Friday night, we can pause the UberEats and say when we’re available and when we’re taking orders,” Schulist said. 

If Grubhub would have reached out, Schulist said he might have considered using them, but this experience left a bad taste for him and possible customers.

“We’re just sorry for anyone that this affected because it was out of our hands,” Schulist said. “So anyone that placed an order with us, we never got those orders and hopefully they give us a second chance. Just not through Grubhub.” 

As far as Buchholz knows, Odd Duck did not have any Grubhub orders come in. She found out the Bay View restaurant was on the app when other restaurant owners told her. BY CT LOTTERYTop Prize Won 2x in 1 Year!See more →

With a daily changing menu, small kitchen and food that simply doesn’t travel well, Buchholz said Odd Duck is not set up for delivery. 

“We’re not unaware that these avenues exist, but it’s not something we want to do,” Buchholz said. “We’re not physically capable. We have enough for 15 tables and 15 seats at the bar.”

A failed order can leave a few people unhappy, like a hungry customer, a driver that went to a location but not get paid and a restaurant that appears to have made a mistake.

“The only (thing) not getting hurt is Grubhub,” Buchholz said.

Grubhub isn’t the only app to offer delivery from restaurants without permission. 

Tony Nilles, the owner of 42 Ale House in St. Francis, said the same thing happened to him with DoorDash in February. 

“In February we were getting phone calls from people saying they wanted to order with us on DoorDash and they couldn’t place their order. We were like, ‘What are you talking about? We don’t use Doordash,'” Nilles said. 

It turned out the app had added the restaurant without getting permission. Nilles was surprised to find when he Googled his restaurant that the DoorDash account appeared directly below 42 Ale House’s hours and reviews on Google.

Nilles isn’t completely against using delivery services. He said he was among the first restaurants in the Milwaukee-area to use UberEats. 

“They take such a big bite out of the sale that it’s not something we want to do any more than we have to, so that’s why we only keep Uber for that,” Nilles said. “We contacted DoorDash and asked why we were on their site. They said it’s a value to your customers and but it’s like ‘No, you guys need to back off.'” 

Nilles said this wasn’t the only time he had issues with delivery apps.

Uber changed its app so customers could order pickup from 42 Ale House, instead of only delivery, through the app, while keeping a portion of the sale. The app 2nd Kitchen, which connects bars without kitchens to establishments with kitchens, had told Milwaukee-area bars they could partner with 42 Ale House through the app, which Nilles never agreed to. 

“We’ve had a couple of problems with these predatory marketing practices,” he said. 

Grubhub said it was adding new restaurants to drive additional online delivery orders and revenue. 

“We are adding non-partnered restaurants in a number of our markets, including Milwaukee,” the Grubhub spokesperson said in an email. “Should a restaurant not want to be on our platform or need to change any information like menu items or hours, they should reach out to our care team and we’ll be happy to make necessary updates or remove them.”