Local restaurant owners, struggling to make a profit during the COVID-19 pandemic, are turning to a local start-up which is making it cheaper for them to set up online food orders and deliveries.
The company is called CHK PLZ and was started by three friends in 2018 to facilitate hands-free transactions at restaurants.
During the first COVID-19 lockdown in the spring of 2020, they pivoted to help restaurants set up online orders foreseeing that pandemic restrictions would last for a while.
“When the pandemic hit, nobody was going in restaurants,” said Roberto Casoli, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “We figured it would be about a year and a half before things get back to normal.”
On their website, they created an ordering platform for each restaurant where clients can place their orders. Since September, they also started partnering with local companies to do deliveries.
Richard Taitt, co-owner of Bistro Nolah in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, has been using CHK PLZ since last spring. He pointed out that one of the main differences between them and the big three delivery companies, Uber Eats, DoorDash and SkipTheDishes, is the cost.
According to him, these companies charge restaurants up to 30 per cent for each order.
“On a $100 order, that’s $30 that the restaurant has to pay for that order,” he explained.
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To make a profit, he added, some restaurants had to up the price of their menu items.
CHK PLZ charges a monthly fee of $30 and Casoli added that they also charge about 3 per cent per transaction.
“Because we don’t charge 30 per cent there’s a lot more margin for restaurants to play with,” he pointed out. “They can also add specials.”
Some in the industry say that low cost could force the big three food delivery companies to lower the 30-per cent commission.
“If we have more players in the market maybe some competition will come from it,” noted Martin Vézina, spokesperson for the Quebec Restaurants Association.
He pointed out that similar companies are popping up saying the unique situation is forcing many companies to reinvent themselves.
“We have heard from the taxi industry also that they believe that they can be another solution for food delivery,” he told Global News.
Casoli claimed that the company so far has more than 200 restaurants on their roster, and they plan to expand beyond Montreal soon. Tait believes that services like CHK PLZ and others, are here to stay.
“When we come outta this, we have no intentions of getting rid of them,” he insisted.