NYC Officials Are Looking Into Grubhub’s Reviled Restaurant Fees

New York City government officials are now diving into the Grubhub debacle, in which several restaurants have accused the food delivery app of slyly charging fees for customer phone calls that never resulted in actual delivery orders.

City Council’s Committee on Small Business will hold an oversight hearing to investigate those fees, as well as others charged by similar apps like like DoorDash and Uber Eats — an act that could eventually lead to more government regulation.

The hearing will go down on June 27, giving local restaurateurs a chance to voice their concerns. City officials will specifically focus on how these fees and other policies are affecting NYC restaurants, especially small mom and pop shops, the Post reports.

“If we see there is abuse, or if there is a manipulation here, then it could certainly be referred to the legal authorities,” Bronx Councilman Mark Gjonaj tells the Post. The hearing’s findings could eventually lead to the involvement of the Public Advocate, the city Comptroller, or the state Attorney General, he says.

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Starbucks begins mobile ordering rollout in Beijing and Shanghai

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“Starbucks said it has begun rolling out its Starbucks Now mobile ordering platform to 300 select stores in Beijing and Shanghai and will expand the service throughout China over the next year.

Starbucks Now, available for Starbucks Rewards members through the company’s mobile app in China, allows customers to order their food and beverages ahead of time and pick them up in store.

“Starbucks Now represents a significant opportunity for Starbucks China to drive new, innovative customer experiences,” Belinda Wong, chief executive officer of Starbucks China said in a company release. “This builds on the latest of several digital initiatives in China, including Starbucks Delivers and locally relevant gifting and e-commerce experiences.”

Customers can use Starbucks Now to find a local store based on the mobile app’s GPS location, order food and customized beverages and make payment, with the order ready to pick up when they arrive at the location.”

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KFC Is Ready For Nationwide Delivery Launch

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“KFC, which plans to launch nationwide delivery later this year, contributed to strong sales growth at parent company Yum Brands Inc., which reported global same-store sales growth of 4% for the first quarter.

Yum CEO Greg Creed said KFC’s strong numbers were driven by strong results in international markets, including double-digit same-store gains in Japan and Indonesia.

“This global powerhouse saw widespread strength, coupled with standout performances in some of our larger markets,” Creed told investors during a Wednesday morning conference call.

In the U.S., Creed said KFC delivery is now available in 2,200 restaurants through Grubhub. He said most orders are coming at dinner, where larger family packs are popular. He called the KFC classic bucket an “incredible delivery device” as food shows up piping hot.”

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Bento Boxes Are Trending In Fast Casual

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We’ve rounded up several examples of the emerging bento box trend in fast-casual restaurants, from a bento-only delivery concept to an already-emerging chain undergoing a major expansion.

“The bentos are appealing because you’re not eating a huge plate of pad Thai, and then falling asleep at your desk the next moment,” Kelley said. “I lived in Japan for over a year and was always taken by the bento delivery system there … they deliver bento boxes and then pick them up in the afternoon. We are doing the same thing in Colorado, and we are essentially zero-waste.”

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Truebird Swoops Into New York with Robotic Specialty Coffee Kiosks

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“(…) Could the surly and spirited humans of old New York embrace a joe by droid? A new company called Truebird has fluttered in to find out.

Like its predecessors, Truebird pitches its system squarely at the specialty coffee crowd, claiming that its automated coffee kiosks offer drinks that are “consistently as good as those made by the best baristas using the finest ingredients and equipment.”

At a Truebird coffee station, customers are able to choose a fresh and locally roasted coffee from a touchscreen menu, then designate a type of milk and an espresso beverage style for the machine to execute.

The flat ceramic “standard” burrs of one of the machine’s two integrated grinders break the beans. An extraction occurs, and milk is stretched by unseen internals as the customer waits, while a trio of cute, black magnet-driven pucks charmingly coordinate to nudge cups around on the visible surface behind glass.

“We chose our magnetic transport solution versus other options, including an articulated robotic arm, for a variety of reasons, but chief among them was the surprisingly warm, approachable, and magical experience it creates,” Truebird CEO and Co-Founder Josh Feuerstein told Daily Coffee News. “We believe a coffee break is not just about the quality of the drink, but about the feel of the experience. We’ve tried to make every element of our product warm, approachable, and beautiful, from the design of the micro-cafe itself, to the mesmerizing experience of watching your cup glide from the espresso machine towards your hand. We keep that emotional component top-of-mind in our design process. It’s a fascinating challenge, especially for an automated product.”

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Approaching a Quarter Century, Intelligentsia Unveils New Bag Designs

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“Fast approaching quadranscentennial age, Chicago-based Intelligentsia Coffee has just unveiled new packaging, representing the roasting and retail company’s first across-the-board package refresh in years.

With design firm Pearlfisher NYC, Intelligentsia attempted through the redesign to reinforce several philosophical and practical pillars that have helped sustain and build the business since 1995 — including the concepts of direct trade relationships with farmers and producers, seasonality, and exceptional coffee quality.

The company’s signature red provides the base for single-origin coffee packaging, with the name and logo replaced by only a reinforced, larger wings-and-star logo. The black-bordered pinkish overlay sticker showing the coffee’s origin has been replaced by a blood red sticker with white and pink copy. On the sticker, Intelligentsia is highlighting the number of years the company has had a partnership with that particular producer, while also including a brief coffee description, flavor notes, and any special release notes.”

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DoorDash Closes $400 Million Funding Round

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“In the last month, a pair of food delivery startups were battling complaints about their tipping policies. Customers and workers chastised the companies for unfairly using tips to subsidize worker pay. As the furor grew, one of the companies, Instacart Inc., changed its compensation policies to match some of workers’ demands.

Meanwhile, the other company, DoorDash Inc., stood firm. It still uses tips from customers to offset some of the minimum payment that a worker gets for each delivery job, in which “Dashers” travel to restaurants or stores and bring food to customers. That decision apparently hasn’t harmed DoorDash’s reputation in the eyes of investors. The company said on Thursday that it received a new round of funding that values it at $7.1 billion.

In an interview Thursday to promote the investment, DoorDash Chief Executive Officer Tony Xu defended the tipping practice, which has been in use since 2017. Xu said internal data show that under the current pay model, Dashers stay on the platform longer, are more satisfied with their jobs and make deliveries in a more timely manner. He blamed recent backlash on Instacart’s implementation of its own policy.”

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