NYC Restaurants Gawk at Grubhub’s ‘Free Lunch’ Promotion

Grubhub offers to pick up the bill for lunch in New York City next week — and restaurants gape.

The barrage of free offers from food delivery companies — including rivals UberEats and Doordash, as well as supermarket apps like Getir, Gopuff and Gorillas that deliver items within 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, owner of hamburger chain Schnipper’s. “They are all terrifying each other to bring in business.”

The latest from Grubhub is a promotion promising a free lunch to anyone who wants one on May 17th.

Diners won’t be able to spend more than $15 for the meal, and they’ll still be on the hook for other fees, such as tax and tip. If the order exceeds $15, the customer will get a $15 discount.

But restaurant owners notified by Grubhub this week about the promotion don’t expect it to overwhelm their dining establishments as discounts on food delivery become more common.

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

Fresh & Co. CEO George Tenedios is one of them. The fast breakfast and lunch chain does not expect a “big boost” from the promotion.

“If anyone has forgotten us in the past two years, the promotion can remind them,” Tenedios added.

Schnipper said: “I assume we’ll be busier on May 17,” but he had no plans to hire staff or buy more food, he said.

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

Just last week, Schnipper said Grubhub had sent his daughter an offer for $20 off an order of $25 or more.

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

Grubhub links the promotion to more New Yorkers returning to their offices, but has expanded it to the five boroughs and surrounding areas of New York and New Jersey. That includes most counties in the Garden State, Long Island, and parts of Pennsylvania.

On Tuesdays, customers can log in to the app between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and place their order with the promotional code “FREELUNCH”.

Grubhub has struggled since the lifting of the pandemic-era lockdown measures as diners return to eating in restaurants.

The app is steadily losing market share to competitors, including Doordash, which is now the largest delivery service in New York City.

Fresh & Co. for example, has convinced more customers to order directly through its website, largely at the expense of Grubhub, Tenedios said. Before the pandemic, about 60% of the chain’s takeout orders were generated by third-party app companies — primarily from Grubhub. But now that number has dwindled to 40%, Tenedios said, with his chain generating 60% of orders directly.

Grubhub – along with the entire delivery industry – is also under regulatory pressure in a number of major cities enacting legislation to curb the rates it charges restaurants.

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

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