Tri-City restaurants now deliver, thanks to UberEats couriers

About 20 eateries participating in Uber’s meal-delivery program

Want to enjoy food from a favorite Tri-City restaurant without having to leave the house?

Request delivery from UberEats, a standalone meal courier service now offered by the popular ride-share service Uber.

The new meal service comes eight months after Uber debuted in Kennewick last year.

“We were on the ground about a month ago and had a lovely stay (in Tri-Cities),” said David Rutenberg, UberEats general manager for Washington state. “We saw the rich food and food production history in Tri-Cities in alignment with our goals.”

Users simply open the UberEats app or visit UberEats.com, select a participating restaurant, make their selections from the provided menu and specify when and where they want their food delivered.

Being able to specify an order time gives users the flexibility to order ahead, too.

“UberEats is for anyone who wants an easy and reliable way to get their favorite food — no matter what they’re doing, where they are, or what time it is,” Rutenberg said.

The courier-powered food delivery service, which launched last month, offers front-door delivery from about 20 local restaurants.

Restaurants benefit from taking advantage of Uber’s drivers and not having to hire their own dedicated delivery driver, which can be burdensome to small businesses, especially with the state’s $11-an-hour minimum wage increase that took effect at the beginning of the year. It increases to $13.50 an hour by 2020.

Customers pay a $4.99 fee to use the service, and Uber receives 35 percent of the order total.

“In short, we help both the top line and the bottom line for our partners,” Rutenberg said.

Stick + Stone Neapolitan Wood-Fired Pizza in Richland is one of about 20 Tri-City restaurants using the UberEats delivery service. The service launched in September in the Tri-Cities.

Stick + Stone Neapolitan Wood-Fired Pizza in Richland is one of about 20 Tri-City restaurants using the UberEats delivery service. The service launched in September in the Tri-Cities.

Stick + Stone Neapolitan Wood-Fired Pizza on Duportail Street in Richland is one of about 20 area restaurants included in the Tri-Cities’ initial launch.

A Tri-City native, owner Michael Miller opened Stick + Stone in January 2014. He was approached by UberEats a couple months ago and saw the idea as a great marketing opportunity.

“It doesn’t make sense to do my own delivery at this point, so UberEats gives us the chance to reach a new group of customers abroad,” Miller said.

  1. Bookwalter Winery, Barracuda Coffee, Shiki Sushi & Grill, Gaslight Bar & Grill, Tommy’s Tap House & Bistro, The Dugout, Seoul Fusion, Cheese Louise, Tap & Barrel, Barnard Griffin Winery, Cupcakes Bakery & Deli and Amendment XXI, as well as a handful of Mexican and pizza restaurants, are participating in UberEats Tri-Cities.

“One of most important things we offer is sales to our restaurants. If you’re not able to leave your office, don’t want to leave the house, or are at the park on the weekend, customers aren’t obligated to go to a restaurant. It benefits restaurants who otherwise wouldn’t be able to serve that customer,” Rutenberg said.

Previously the nearest city with the service was Spokane, where nearly 100 restaurants joined in August.

Seattle was one of the first 10 cities to adopt the UberEats business model in March 2016, after the company’s successful pilot in Los Angeles, which began in August 2014. The service is now available in more than 120 cities and 29 countries.

UberEats Tri-Cities service will be available in most locations from West Richland to Pasco.

The app’s adaptive algorithm draws on data collected from users’ previous choices to generate relevant restaurant suggestions, in addition to highlighting new restaurants to UberEats.

“It’s not just a valuable service to eaters, but is a lot of value added to restaurant partners and exposure for bringing in not just existing customers, but also new customers who might have been out of reach and are now accessible. People discover new restaurants just by scrolling through the app,” said Nathan Hambley, Uber spokesman.

The “favorites” feature enables users to remember restaurants and previous orders for ease of future ordering.

Delivery times are competitive, compared to other order-in options, Hambley said. “We are laser-focused on reliable and fast service,” he said.

Existing and perspective Uber drivers benefit from the service with increased job opportunities. Eligible drivers can opt to focus solely on ride-share jobs, food delivery, or both.

The eligibility criteria to be an UberEats driver is less strict. For example, a four-door vehicle is not required to participate in food delivery, and the vehicle can be up to 20 years old, as opposed to the 15-year-old age limit enforced in most areas.

The minimum age of the operators also has been relaxed to 19 years old for couriers, as opposed to 21 years old for ride-share drivers.

“We are always working to improve our service, whether it be the app itself, or the selection of restaurants available on our platform. We are proud of the service that we’re serving to eaters today, but hope to provide even better service a month from now, even better service than that next month, and so on,” Rutenberg said.

UberEats’ goal is to serve as many cities and restaurants as it can.

“We are super excited to be in the Tri-Cities and to offer the service, and to be partnering with so many restaurants,” Rutenberg said. “We are excited to partner with more as the year goes on and to support the local community’s rich food culture and heritage … food is universal and something to be shared … we feel privileged to be in the Tri-Cities.”

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