Uber Eats now wants to streamline more than just your food delivery order. The company made an addition this week when it announced it will also speed up your experience when you eat in the actual restaurant, too.
A tipster dropped a line to TechCrunch detailing the new Uber Eats Dine-In feature, which lets customers order their food ahead, so there’s very little wait from the time a person enters the restaurant to when they get their meal.
To use the feature, customers log into the Uber Eats app and choose the “dine-in” option. The app shows how long the food will take to prepare and notifies you when it’s nearly ready, which is your cue to head over to the restaurant and take a seat. Users can leave a tip for the server in the app. For this feature, Uber Eats also waives the usual delivery and service fees.
The whole process is very much like Allset, a competitor that also offers a streamlined process for dining in-house.
Beyond how Uber Eats’ entrance into this area might affect Allset’s business, the move also raises questions about how an uptick in these sorts of apps could affect restaurant operations. Within Uber Eats’ Dine-In option, users are shown how long the food will take to prepare (see screenshots above). It’s unclear if that time calculation factors in how busy the kitchen is at the moment or, for that matter, if the restaurant has the seating to accommodate the order. The app seems like an ideal way for a person to speed up a lunch in the middle of the workday or a pre-movie dinner. But those are both times restaurants tend to get heavy traffic anyway, so it remains to be seen if adding another sales channel to the mix will make restaurants’ lives easier or more hectic.
One area Uber Dine-In could provide a boost is for off-peak times. As TC pointed out, restaurants could use the Dine-In feature to attract more customers during less busy times by running promotions through the app itself or by subsidizing an Uber ride to the restaurant. In theory, at least, these kinds of promotions could provide a small revenue boost for a restaurant.
Restaurant operations aside, apps like Dine-In and Allset do raise the question of why you would go out to eat in the first place if you don’t have the time or patience to wait 11 minutes for your food to arrive after ordering. There does seem to be something about these features that would make, say, a pre-movie meal feel more like just-another-transaction rather than an evening out with friends or family. That’s in the eye of the beholder, of course, and as we see more apps like these coming to market, we’ll hear plenty more pros and cons from both side of that argument.