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Does Uber Eats really deliver hot food fast?

Don't Waste Your Money
Posted at 10:14 AM, Oct 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-07 14:46:33-04

Until recently, if you wanted dinner delivered, your choice was pretty much pizza or Chinese takeout.

Not anymore: New services promise gourmet meals from dozens of your favorite Cincinnati area restaurants, in just 30 minutes in many cases.

But can they really deliver on that promise? We decided to find out.

Just Use the App

It's 11:30 am, and the front desk iPad lights up at Pi Pizza, an artisan pizza restaurant on 6th Street in Downtown Cincinnati.

A customer named Shelby has just ordered a caesar salad through the delivery service Uber Eats, through the Uber Eats app on her smartphone.

Within a minute, the kitchen gets to work, with an estimated 32 minute time to get it to her Downtown office.

Manager Josh Treadway thinks Uber drivers delivering food will be a big hit, once people realize the advantages.

"We're excited about it, we've already seen a lot of increased business, it's really done well for us so far," he said.

Unlike phone-in pizza delivery, where you can't be sure exactly when your food will arrive (and sometimes that promised 45 minute wait is an hour and 15 minutes), Uber Eats shows customers on its app exactly where their driver and food is.

Uber Eats joins similar food delivery services like Grub Hub, Order Up, and Door Dash in some cities, but has an advantage due to its huge network of Uber drivers.

Cincinnati Restaurants from City Barbecue to Gold Star Chili, Graeter's Ice Cream, Hofbrauhaus, and even the tiny Cafe de Paris downtown, are jumping on board.

"If you have 4 or 5 favorite restaurants, with different cuisines, and you are having a party, you could do 4 or 5 of them in one night and never leave your house," Treadway said.

The Advantage to Diners

In the past if you wanted food takeout from a small bistro or family owned restaurant, you'd have to drive there yourself, pick it up, and then drive it back home.    

Now, mom and pop restaurants can offer delivery for the first time.

Jamie Dunn, manager of the Green Derby in Newport, KY said "a lot of people are already using Uber Eats when they can't go out to lunch, and they are having it delivered to their work or their homes."

She says Uber's computers time it down to the minute, so that the driver doesn't show up until the food is ready to go out.

"As soon as the food is done they are usually walking in the door," she said.

Uber says the average time from order to delivery is just 35 minutes in the urban areas it serves (it is not yet available in many suburban and rural  communities).

Back at Pi Pizza, 32 minutes after that caesar salad order, we found an Uber driver named Louis arriving at Shelby's office, handing her the order in her building's lobby.

There's no tipping, just a $4.99 Uber charge, which she calls a bargain for great food (restaurants pick up the remainder of the Uber fees). Cash never changes hands, because it's all billed to your Uber account.

"I'm a big foodie," she said. "So whenever I can get food from anywhere it is always exciting."

For the first month, some restaurants will waive Uber's $4.99 dollar delivery fee.    

Interested? Search for the Uber Eats app (also Order Up or Grub Hub in the Cincinnati area) so you don't waste your money.

Want to hear me talk about this story on our weekly WCPO podcast. Click here for the latest episode. 

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