New York restaurants yawn over Grubhub’s ‘free lunch’ promotion

Grubhub is offering to pay the lunch bill in New York next week — and restaurants are yawning.

The flurry of freebies from food delivery companies — including rivals UberEats and Doordash, as well as grocery apps like Getir, Gopuff and Gorillas that deliver items in minutes — is reaching new heights, experts say.

“Not a week goes by that I don’t get a promotion from one of these delivery companies,” said restaurant owner Andrew Schnipper, who owns the Schnipper’s hamburger chain. “They’re all beating each other up to win business.”

The latest from Grubhub is a promotion that promises a free lunch for anyone who wants it on May 17th.

Customers will not be able to spend more than $15 for the meal and will still be on the hook for other surcharges such as tax and tip. If the order exceeds $15, the customer receives a $15 discount.

But restaurateurs who were alerted to the promotion by Grubhub this week don’t expect it to overwhelm their restaurants because food delivery discounts have become increasingly common.

A smartphone with the Grubhub app displayed.
Food delivery apps are increasingly offering discounts to attract new customers and increase loyalty.
SOPA/LightRocket images via Gett

Fresh & Co. chief executive George Tenedios is among them. The quick-service breakfast and lunch chain doesn’t expect to get “a big boost” from the promotion.

“If someone has forgotten about us in the last two years, the promotion can remind them,” added Tenedios.

Schnipper said “I assume we’ll be busier on May 17,” but he wasn’t planning on hiring more staff or buying more food, he said.

A bicycle parked outside a Chipotle store with a Grubhub bag on its back.
Restaurant owners don’t expect to be overwhelmed by the $15 promotion.
Levine-Roberts/Sipa USA

Last week, Schnipper said Grubhub sent her daughter an offer of $20 off an order of $25 or more.

“We have run similar scale programs in the past,” admitted Grubhub spokesman Christopher Krautler in an email to The Post. “We are excited to launch this initiative and deliver free lunch to thousands of New Yorkers while reminding them of the importance of taking a lunch break,” he added.

Grubhub is tying the promotion to the fact that more New Yorkers are returning to its offices, but it has extended it to the five boroughs, as well as neighboring areas in New York and New Jersey. This includes most Garden State counties, Long Island, and parts of Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday, customers can log into the app between 11am and 2pm and submit their order using the promo code “FREELUNCH”.

Grubhub has struggled since lifting the pandemic-era lockdown measures as customers returned to eat at restaurants.

The app has been losing market share to competitors including Doordash, which is now New York City’s largest delivery service.

Fresh & Co., for example, has convinced more customers to order directly from its website, largely at the expense of Grubhub, Tenedios said. Before the pandemic, around 60% of network takedown requests were generated by third-party app companies – and mostly from Grubhub. But now that number has shrunk to 40%, Tenedios said, with its network generating 60% of orders directly.

Grubhub – along with the entire delivery industry – is also under regulatory pressure in several major cities that are introducing legislation to lower fees charged to restaurants.

Last year, Grubhub was acquired by European conglomerate Just Eat Takeaway.com. Last month, the company said it was exploring a partial or full sale of Grubhub.

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