City Council places restrictions on third-party delivery fees to protect Evanston restaurants

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Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th). Aldermen unanimously voted Monday to restrict the third-party food delivery service charges on local restaurants.

Jason Beeferman, Reporter

Third-party food delivery services like Uber Eats and DoorDash are now prohibited from charging Evanston restaurants more than 15 percent of the order price , after the restriction passed unanimously at Monday’s City Council meeting.

“We’re not in normal times right now,” Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) said. “We are talking about a month where we will lose restaurants if we don’t do something.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order banning all food establishments from serving food or beverages for on-site consumption. Consumers have been increasingly relying on third-party delivery platforms for their meals. These third-party delivery companies can take a significant portion of restaurant revenues, Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) said.

“At a time right now when our restaurants are surviving on the takeout, this is them scooping out an additional amount from them,” Wynne said. “I have to say as someone who orders out, I just call the restaurants directly.”

Suffredin said he does not normally support these types of market restrictions, but considered it necessary given the severity of the pandemic.

“Restaurants are on the edge of surviving…as a city we’ve traditionally not been shy about taxing restaurants; I feel like we (now) have an obligation to try and protect them,” Suffredin said. “These companies aren’t bad actors or evil, but under the situation that we’re in now, I feel the 15 percent cap is reasonable.”

Currently, the resolution has no expiration date. But Suffredin said he intends for the resolution to be temporary and last only for the duration of the state’s stay-at-home order.

Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) said customers do not know third-party fees are often charged to restaurants. Recently, some food delivery platforms have advertised waived delivery fees on the consumer side but have continued to charge restaurants.

She said the city should promote consumer education to address the issue.

“It would be really interesting for our economic development staff to encourage people to go to the websites of the individual restaurants, so that all the money stays within those restaurants,” Fiske said. “We could do a little bit more educating, assuming that folks just really don’t know where the money’s going.”

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