Founded in 1986, Eat Out In has been around longer than some of the executives at the newest food delivery companies.
In today’s food section, you can read about the pioneering efforts of Jackie Davies, the Austinite who, 30 years ago, realized that many diners wanted to be able to order more than pizza and Chinese food for delivery.
Davies sold her company to LAbite last year, and just a few weeks ago, GrubHub, the largest company in the space, bought LAbite. (Read more about the crazy changes happening in this space in this sidebar: Can restaurants, delivery companies make money off on-demand meals?)
Eat Out In continues to operate in Austin, Houston and San Antonio, and as I was reporting the story last week, I decided to order from Eat Out In to see what it was like compared to the other delivery services I’ve used lately.
UberEats is the most popular option around the office, and I’ve used it a couple of times. Each time, I’ve ordered from the “instant delivery” menu, which is from restaurants whose food is already in the cars of the drivers, and I’m amazed at how quickly the food arrives, usually less than 10 minutes. To accommodate customers who want more choices (the instant version only includes a few restaurants and menu options), UberEats has expanded its “off the menu” selection of restaurants. Those orders have a higher delivery fee — about $5 — and take about half an hour to 45 minutes to complete.
Eat Out In doesn’t have an “instant delivery” model, but under new ownership, it has expanded the number of partner restaurants from about 35 to more than 100. My editor and I ordered lunch from Tarka last week. The delivery fee was a flat $7.95, with no upcharge on the food, and the promised delivery time was 75 minutes. It took all of those 75 minutes, plus maybe another 5 or 10, to actually get the food from a very nice delivery driver.
It wasn’t his fault that, according to the tracking system, my order didn’t get to the restaurant until more than 20 minutes after I’d submitted it. It should be noted that Eat Out In has a larger delivery range than UberEats, which could lead to longer delivery times.
The verdict? In this hyper-fast delivery world, any order that takes more than an hour to complete isn’t going to satisfy most customers. For decades, Eat Out In’s specialty has been the large catering orders at offices and events, but it is going to have to step up its game to compete with its much faster competitors.
I don’t order food for delivery as much as some of you, so I’d love to hear your feedback on which companies you prefer to use and why.