How Delivery is Supporting Restaurants During COVID-19


  • Emilie Boman
November 19, 2020 - (4 min read)

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting public health measures have changed daily life as we know it. One of the sectors at the very center of the disruption is the restaurant industry, which faces unprecedented challenges as COVID-19 remains a serious threat and dine-in restrictions continue across the country and globe.

Restaurants are at the heart of cities. They are anchors of local communities, drivers of local economies, and key contributors to the unique and vibrant character that we know and love about our cities. Restaurants are also incredibly important to us at Uber and Uber Eats. In normal times, restaurants are one of the top destinations for Uber riders. And at Uber Eats where we partner with more than 500,000 restaurants across the globe, we know delivery has been an important resource during the pandemic. In a survey of restaurants, we commissioned with Technomic, 76% of operators said they would have had to close their business if it wasn’t for Uber Eats and more than 80% of operators indicated that they would have had to lay off staff members if it wasn’t for third-party delivery services.

We’ve been inspired by restaurants’ commitment to keeping kitchens running and their customers satisfied, standing up creative outdoor spaces so that customers can safely enjoy the dine-in experience that they know and love. However, real obstacles exist as temperatures begin to drop and public health measures continue.

To support restaurants in their efforts to winterize their outdoor spaces, and cities and business associations in their partnership in these efforts, we’re excited to launch a new restaurant playbook together with the design firm, WXY Architecture + Urban Design, the Black-owned restaurant guide EatOkra, the non-profit working to support small businesses Harlem Park to Park, and Valinc PR. This project is part of Uber’s national commitment to support black-owned restaurants and businesses, as we know the pandemic has had disproportionate impacts on minority communities. Later this month, starting in Harlem, we’ll be kicking off a series of outdoor dining pilots and activations in a number of cities across the country based on recommendations from this playbook.

The playbook, Keeping the Tables Turning: Strategies for Repurposing Outdoor Space for Restaurants in COVID-19, distills design guidance and best practices for ways restaurants can maximize their footprint so restaurants can continue to drive business to their establishments, even as temperatures chill and dine-in restrictions continue. The playbook provides health and safety guidance from experts, ideas on how to re-organize indoor and outdoor space to support socially distant dining activities, and guidance on implementing various marketing initiatives, programs, and events.

In addition to the Restaurant Playbook, we’ve worked hard over the course of the year to support restaurants. We’ve introduced new safety features and policies for restaurants and delivery people, reduced consumer fees to drive demand, waived fees for pickup orders through the end of the year, launched efforts to support Black-owned restaurants, and launched a series of new products aimed at helping restaurants work with us in more flexible and affordable ways.

The coming weeks and months will continue to be challenging for all of us. We hope our work with WXY proves useful in restaurants’ efforts to maximize the use of their spaces, as it’s clear that good urban design has a role to play in the recovery of our local economies and communities. Uber Eats is committed to working with cities, local business associations, and practitioners to support our restaurants. We all have a role to play – let’s emerge from this crisis stronger, together.

About the Author

Emilie Boman

About the Author

Emilie Boman works at Uber, where she leads the company’s public policy efforts on safety and delivery.