As new Nashville restaurants seemingly pop up every weekend, so do issues like traffic, parking, and wait times for tables. Although you may crave a particular restaurant’s atmosphere, sometimes the hassle just seems too great.
Enter food delivery services. In recent years, Nashville has welcomed more than a half-dozen restaurant delivery services all with one goal: to win over Nashville with fast service, low fees and unique promotions.
Grubhub first arrived on the scene 11 years ago. Sandra Glading, Grubhub’s director of media relations, told Crain’s Nashville why they first appeared in Music City.
“Our COO Stan Chia talks about how Nashville has the best barbecue, fresh-squeezed juices, and how he loves the positive feel of the city's cuisine and residents." Glading said. "We love places with great local flavor, but more importantly we saw a great potential to connect residents with some really amazing local restaurants.”
While Grubhub blazed the delivery trail, others were quick to follow.
Matthew Alexander, district manager for OrderUp, says that it was Nashville’s vibrant food scene – and the high number of young people in general and college students in particular – that attracted his firm to this market.
“We believe Nashville has some of the best food options in the country, so it made a lot of sense for us to bring our delivery service to the market,” he explained.
According to Kristin Schaefer, Postmates’ senior vice president of finance and strategy, players in the delivery niche are constantly battling for position.
“I think that the space is competitive and I think there are some similarities across the products," she said. "There isn't exclusivity among the merchants; you see the same merchants across all the platforms. The business model is the same, so you have to think about a smart way to offer that product and still have the overall service be really sticky for the customer.”
To help set itself apart, Postmates allows users to order goods or food from just about anywhere in the city. The platform was also the first to offer free items delivered at no cost – a game-changer for people who just wanted to try the app.
Meanwhile, after coming to Nashville just last year, DoorDash boasts the biggest service area of any delivery platform in Nashville, servicing North Nashville to areas south of Franklin. This distinguishes it from focused solely on Metro Nashville. The newcomer already has partnered with more than 700 Nashville restaurants, also putting it ahead of the game.
“We've expanded pretty aggressively,” explained Alex Kown, DoorDash strategy and operations manager for the Nashville market.
However, despite all of these competitive strategies, some still embrace a paper takeout menu and their phones. According to Grubhub's Glading, more than 90 percent of Americans use this time-honored method to place takeout or delivery orders.
But to stay competitive among other food delivery platforms, the seasoned delivery platform has attempted to be the lowest-priced in the industry with no processing or service fees.
Pros and cons
From a restaurant’s perspective, there are some positives and negatives to using these services. The obvious positive is that it gives guests that convenience factor.
Party Fowl Manager Josh Henneman admits his biggest concern is what the food looks like once it has hit the customer’s doorstep.
“We have a big respect for the food that we send out, and strive for a high integrity of what our product looks like when it's plated, and we just don't know what the food is going to look like by the time it gets to somebody,” he said.
When asked if he had a favorite delivery platform, Henneman didn’t hesitate.
“OrderUp is our favorite, strictly because it seems to be the one that most people use the most. Eighty to ninety percent of our to-go order foods come from OrderUp.”