In the midst of a pandemic, it seems beleaguered third-party delivery service Waitr is seeing some uptick in demand for its service. After a slump in March, the Louisiana-based company says it has seen an increase in orders as more people stay at home under shelter-in-place orders, according to The Advocate.
It’s been a rough several months for the company.
Last July, the company became the center of protests when it changed its commission fee structure for restaurants to a “performance-based structure” that was largely seen as a move that punished smaller restaurants with lower sales volumes. The service ignited another controversy earlier this year when it shifted its model to classify drivers as contractors, rather than the W-2 employees they had been previously.
In between those events, the company has done three rounds of layoffs, was in danger of getting delisted from the Nasdaq, and according to one report only had enough cash to run through March of 2020.
All that, of course, was pre-pandemic. Now that delivery is one of the only lifeline’s restaurants have, Waitr has seen demand for its service go up from both customers and restaurants. CEO Carl Grimstad said in a statement this week that “driver supply is at an all-time high and new restaurants are signing up for our services rapidly.” The company has also said it has seen an increase in driver applications.
Like other third-party delivery services, Waitr hasn’t adjusted commission fees for restaurants during this time, though the service said it is “working with restaurant partners to offer free delivery and marketing programs.”
A growing number of governments, advocacy groups, and restaurants themselves argue that the best way to help the restaurant industry right now is to slash commission fees for restaurants, who often pay fees of 30 percent or higher for each transaction. Waitr has not yet made any mention of either cutting down or waiving those fees.
The company’s real test will come as states slowly begin to reopen businesses and customers are once again seated in dining rooms.