While businesses are hurting due to COVID-19 concerns and the resulting social distancing, at least one type is booming.
Food delivery companies like Bite Squad, DoorDash and Uber Eats are signing up dozens of new client eateries in Hawaii now that in-restaurant dining has been suspended.
Business was already growing but now it’s exploding, said Terence Waclawik , development manager for Bite Squad in Hawaii. The service normally adds 30 restaurants in a good month, Waclawik said, but it signed up five to 15 each day last week.
Uber Eats’ business has spiked nationally, spokeswoman Stephanie Sedlak said, although she did not have numbers specifically for Hawaii. Its website shows that it recently added the local eateries Square Barrels, Zigu and La Ciccia Italian restaurant.
The company, known as a pioneer in ride-hailing, is looking for more delivery drivers.
“There is a background check, but we’re doing our very best to get through the process as quickly as possible,” Sedlak said.
Bite Squad is also hiring drivers and other employees to keep up with demand, Waclawik said. Fifteen Hawaii restaurants were added to the service on Friday alone, he said.
“It’s an odd and strange time. We’re getting phone calls from restaurants and a lot of leads from social media.”
Friday morning, Waclawik showed staff at The Pig &the Lady how to use Bite Squad’s restaurant client app. The popular downtown Vietnamese restaurant hoped to have its menu available for delivery to Bite Squad subscribers by today.
“Right now we’re doing this because of the situation. I think delivery will be of great help,” said Teri Fukuhara-Le, the restaurant’s creative director and wife of owner/chef Andrew Le. “Our location can be tricky (for takeout).” Parking is limited in the restaurant’s Chinatown neighborhood.
Affiliate restaurant Piggy Smalls at Ward Centre has had Bite Squad service since last year.
Quincy Solano, owner and president of Honolulu-based Clever Wolf Digital, works with Bite Squad, DoorDash and Uber Eats.
“We help with the menus, streamlining them and uploading them to the sites,” Solano said. “You would never think a marketing company would be so busy in a situation like this. But some restaurants are doing brand-new menus, new specials. Some people are even creating new dishes.”
Mama Le’s Seafood Chao — usually available only at its booth at farmers markets, is new on the takeout/delivery menu at The Pig &the Lady. “I think that kind of soup is very comforting, and I think (Andrew) wanted to put something comforting on the menu,” Fukuhara-Le said.
Bite Squad also is providing restaurants with promo codes that will give customers free delivery (the cost is split between the restaurant and Bite Squad), Waclawik said.
Uber Eats announced last week it has waived activation fees for new restaurant partners and delivery fees to customers in the U.S. and Canada.
Uber Eats and Bite Squad also have reminded customers that they can request contact-free “leave-on-doorstep” deliveries or provide other special instructions for drivers.
A DoorDash representative declined comment.