Andy Salyards, 36, founder and owner of Urban Brew & BBQ in St. Petersburg’s booming Grand Central district, just west of downtown, has mixed views on mobile app-based delivery services. He partners with GrubHub and Uber Eats but will “turn it off” if the restaurant gets too busy with dine-in orders.
It's a cutthroat approach steeped in logic and customer service 101. “If we have to choose between a customer who’s in house and an Uber customer, the Uber customer is never going to win,” he says. “We’ll just stop serving them and not feel bad about it.”
That’s because delivery orders add little revenue to the bottom line, maybe 1-2%, Salyards estimates, while taking a huge cut — usually around 32-33% of every order. “When you take away 30%, there’s no room for profit,” he says.
Urban Brew & BBQ receives about 40-50 delivery orders per week, Salyards says, so it’s not a big part of the business. He thinks delivery services could be a better fit for a new restaurant, The Floribbean, he’s opening up soon with business partner Sal Merola. The menu will consist of Indian, Caribbean, Creole and Cajun dishes sold at a lower price point than the barbecued meats at Urban Brew & BBQ.
Salyards, who says he doesn’t even like to offer takeout orders, chose to work with the delivery services because they offer an easy way to increase or decrease order volume as needed — “We can meter it,” he says — without offering happy hour specials and other discounts that, he thinks, devalue his product.
“We are going to fight for the delivery business only so much,” Salyards says. “We’re not going to get into a pricing war. We feel very confident that we’re providing great value.”
Click below to see how other area restaurants vary their strategies on how to handle the surge of meal delivery.