But Britt, a trained chef by trade, also laments what happens with most food delivered from the kitchen via Grubhub, Uber Eats and the others to their final destination: the customer. “As soon as the food leaves the kitchen, the quality denigrates and goes downhill,” Britt says. For most chefs, “all we have is our food and our experience,” so he understands why some resist delivery urge to guard brand value.
The restaurants that offer pick-up, without hiring third-party vendors, can reap certain benefits, too. “There’s no middleman,” Britt says. And many customers drive to the restaurants for pick-up, get to know the host or hostess, and may stop for a quick beer or glass of wine, and form a bond with the bartender.
Yet the chains that don’t hire aggregators are outspoken about their decision. There’s a definite line in the delivery sand forming. For example, CEO Kent Taylor of Texas Roadhouse said in 2017, “We encourage all our competitors to do as much delivery as they can, so they can deliver lukewarm food to the people who order it.”
Travis Doster, the 578-unit brand’s vice president of communications, is equally emphatic. “The No. 1 factor,” he says, “is we’re a value concept. We try to keep prices low. They’re going to charge 20 percent, and often they’re not reliable.”
Secondly, Doster adds, “our food doesn’t travel well.” Texas Roadhouse would prefer guests chow down on fresh food while listening to music in the background, forming relationships with the host, service staff and bartender, order beverages, and keep coming back for more the next time.
In addition, the kitchens at Texas Roadhouse can only accommodate so many orders without denigrating quality. “You don’t want to start harming the dine-in experience,” Doster says.
If the driver messes up the order or delivers food as the third stop along the way, contributing to the food getting cold or spoiling, the customer calls Texas Roadhouse and blames the restaurant—not the third-party vendor.
Aggregators “are all about convenience. We sell value and quality,” Doster says.
By analogy, Doster refers to the many hotel chains that jumped at the chance of boosting revenue with Hotels.com and other online travel sites, but now five years later, “they’ve lost direct connection with the guest” and are trying to recover it and revive loyalty with their guests.
Texas Roadhouse enables all guests to order food by phone and pick it up, and bring it back to their home, hotel room, hospital or wherever, and has its own mobile ordering service for pick-up as well.
Several of these third-party vendors, such as Grubhub, offer Texas Roadhouse food online. They order the food via Texas Roadhouse and deliver it to customers for an additional charge, without ever signing up the steakhouse chain to be a member. Obviously, Texas Roadhouse isn’t charged any fees. This is a big topic right now.