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Food Service Industry Updates

Restaurant Association Serves Up Public Policy Principles for Third-Party Delivery


Realizing that food delivery represents one of the most important segments of growth for the restaurant industry, the National Restaurant Association has released its Public Policy Principles for Third-Party Delivery that define best practices for third-party delivery to guide lawmakers in developing public policy.

The association said the release of the principles culminates a year-long effort to develop national guidelines based on the experiences of restaurant operators of all sizes. The principles represent the first time the restaurant industry and third-party delivery companies have come together and agreed on a framework for their relationship.

In a National Restaurant Association online survey of 1,000 adults conducted Dec. 7-9, 70% of adults say they ordered delivery from a restaurant and 40% had used a third-party delivery company for their delivery. The association said the pandemic has accelerated restaurant customers’ comfort with technology, and with that new level of access comes easier ways to satisfy their demands for their favorite restaurant meals. 

“Even before the pandemic, delivery — and decisions related to delivery — had major impacts on restaurant operations,” said Mike Whatley, vice president for state and local affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “Until now, the relationship between restaurants and third-party delivery companies lacked a national framework to protect restaurants. These new principles, which center around permission and transparency, add consistency and structure that will benefit all restaurants. This agreement represents an important first step in an ongoing dialogue between restaurants and third-party delivery companies about ways to improve our relationship going forward.”

The seven principles are:

• Restaurants have a right to know and determine when and if their food is delivered.

• Customers should expect the same degree of food safety from delivery as they do when dining in a restaurant.

• Restaurants should be able to offer alcohol to customers through third-party delivery in a safe and legal manner.

• Restaurants deserve transparency on fees (including commissions, delivery fees and promotional fees) charged by third-party delivery companies.

• Third-party food delivery contracts need contractual transparency, and issues surrounding fees, costs, terms, policies, marketing practices involving the restaurant or its likeness, and insurance/indemnity should be clear.

• Sales tax collection responsibility must be clear in terms of which party is collecting and remitting the specific sales tax to the appropriate authority.

• As a best practice, third-party delivery companies should offer restaurants access to anonymized information regarding orders from their restaurant that originate on third-party platforms.

Food delivery companies expressed satisfaction with the principles.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to have partnered with the National Restaurant Association in developing these principles, which will help platforms like DoorDash continue to empower restaurants to reach new customers and grow their revenue,” said Max Rettig, global head of public policy at DoorDash. “We look forward to continually improving our offerings to best serve our restaurant partners.” 

“These principles will help strengthen the critical relationship between the diners, drivers and restaurants that has grown even more important during the pandemic,” said Seth Priebatsch, chief revenue officer at Grubhub.

“The teams at Uber Eats and Postmates are committed to the restaurant community,” said Stephane Ficaja, head of Uber Delivery for the U.S. and Canada. “As one company, we’ve recently made commitments to listening to and learning from merchants and have worked together to support the National Restaurant Association’s development of these new principles that are designed to address the most pressing interests of the industry.”

In the customer survey, roughly 90% of customers who ordered delivery in the last six months favor each of the seven principles. Read the full Public Policy Principles for Third-Party Delivery here