If your entire goal in dining out is shoving some fuel in your pie hole and getting out a restaurant as fast as humanly possible, then Uber Eats has a swell new option for you.
The app has added a Dine In option for some of its restaurant partners, allowing users to order their food before they've left the house / while they're on their way, reducing the need for server chit-chat or waiting patiently for one's food to arrive. As TechCrunch notes, Uber Eats is not the first to try out this idea — and app called AllSet has been doing this for about four years — but it does point to Uber's growing ambitions when it comes to entering the food space.
For the moment, Uber isn't charging any extra fees or taking any obvious cut from this process — although there is some evidence of items being marked up a bit in the app versus the IRL menu, so maybe they are taking a cut. It may just be that Uber wants to entice more restaurants to partner with them and then slowly get them on board with delivery, and/or create symbiotic relationships in which diners get deals on Uber rides or meals if they eat during off hours.
The concept is only a fit for counter-service type places and super-casual spots, and not, say, the Rich Tables and Delfinas of this world which a) aren't hurting for business, and b) are more about having an actual dining experience.
A quick survey of available spots on AllSet brings up things like Lers Ros, Saucy Asian, and Pakwan, but there are some other spots with availability today like Gracias Madre and the consistently half-empty Tara Indian Cuisine in the Castro.
The Dine-In option on Uber Eats works like this: You will be given the option on some restaurants to go eat "ASAP" or to schedule a later time when you want your food to be ready. The app will show you how long the food will take to prep and how long it will take to get to the restaurant. You pay in the app, and you can choose either to tip in the app or at the table — Uber says that 100% of tips go to the restaurant.
On the plus side, this process lets restaurants have more control over how food is presented, and the food you get will be hot — unlike when it's been sitting in a delivery person's car for a half hour.
AllSet's CEO Stas Matviyenko tells TechCrunch "It’s all about convenience and time saving," which, yeah, I guess that's the direction the culture is going. And it doesn't hurt the restaurant, obviously, until Uber starts demanding their cut. Matviyenko suggests that more companies will be trying to move into this space, but this could be "difficult" for Uber "given their focus on delivery."
TechCrunch further points out that the next logical step here is for Uber to move in on OpenTable's and Resy's game and start offering restaurant reservations through the app. Any bets on how long that will take?