Decoding On-Demand Dining Apps

Your quit-hit guide to choosing an on-demand delivery service

Choosing a delivery service can be a daunting task, considering the explosion in apps and services designed to help restaurants modernize delivery operations.

But on-demand delivery cannot be ignored. Off-premise foot traffic is expected to surpass restaurant visits over the next few years, making delivery vital to business and its growth.

Consider GENUINE Roadside, GENUINE Liquorette and GENUINE Superette inside of New York City’s Gotham West Market. Delivery sales the first year rang in $34,000, according to Marco Morzan, director of operations. This year Genuine is on pace to accrue more $220,000 in delivery sales.

But auxiliary benefits exist as well. Delivery can expand an operation’s customer base by extending a restaurant’s geographic reach and increase brand awareness by reaching customers who are already regular users of particular apps.

But what type of service is right for you? Check out the following services as well as the side-by-side comparison chart, which includes costs.


Strongly suited for restaurants with more complex fare, Caviar helps operators vet which dishes are suitable for carry-out by performing delivery tests and gauging the quality of the results. It’s no wonder its high-profile partners include restaurants run by David Chang, Rick Bayless and Ming Tsai. Caviar handles the app maintenance and the pickup and delivery of the meals as well.


Known as a white label service, ChowNow customizes the online ordering platform for the restaurant. The restaurant owns the relationship with the customer by having access to the metrics. This service is best for operations with a strong brand, solid marketing efforts and an established customer base since it not a part of a third-party aggregator site. White label aggregators offer the ability to order on social media.


Founded in 2004, Grubhub has size, scope and experience on its side. It boasts 45,000 restaurants partners in more than 1,000 cities, from chains to mom and pops. Restaurants that can handle their own delivery can use Grubhub’s existing platform as a surrogate for incoming phone orders. Orders come into the restaurant via Grubhub and restaurants send off its own delivery personnel.


Think of Postmates as a courier service for restaurant fare. Diners log onto the Postmates app or web page and place an order. The order is received and prepared by the restaurant. One of Postmates’ 40,000 drivers picks up the meal and delivers it to the diner.

Yelp Eat24

Much like Grubhub, Yelp Eat24 is used by restaurants with the capability to handle the deliveries. All food prices, delivery fees and service area designations are set by the restaurants, providing operators greater freedom in terms of costs and profits.


Powered by the technology behind Uber, the on-demand driver service, UberEATS gives restaurants the ability to reach a wider audience—thus new customers—since the orders are delivered by existing drivers. The service says it is particularly suited for delivery-only restaurants.

Peter Gianopulos is an adjunct professor and critic for Chicago Magazine. He has reported on the restaurant industry for more than 15 years.