On the House is Eater's column that goes behind the scenes of the restaurant business, written by the owners, operators, chefs and others who make our favorite establishments tick. Today, Karin Lawler, who owns and operates The Truffle Cheese Shop and the Truffle Table along with her husband Rob, talks about her quibbles with third party food delivery services like Postmates, who do not ask restaurants for permission to act as a middleman.
I have been around the block a few times. Trends come and go. Sometimes trends change the way the world works and the way people live. I understand this. Sometimes I feel so disconnected from trends that when they catch on and change the world, I am left behind. My first Uber ride was exhilarating. My first experience with Sipping and Painting blew my mind. Shit, "at least I have a smartphone," I tell myself. I may not be able to work all of the buttons, but I have one.
The newest trend that is starting to affect my life is third party food delivery services. I get it. You're stoned on the couch and want some Taco Bell. You have twins that both have colds and you want some Uncle. You are in the middle of a Walking Dead marathon and you absolutely have to have some Chipotle. Because we have immediate access to just about everything else in the world, we need to have access to restaurants that don't typically deliver.
I am hit by at least one email a week with a new company in Denver that is able to "reach new customers through our website and offer speedy delivery to your existing customers." Or perhaps they want to speak to me about "transforming the way local goods move around the city."
Postmates recently removed our menu from their website, thankfully, after several emails (and a few threats) asking them to remove it. One of the problems with this listed menu was that it was old, 18 months old. A bigger problem was that they never asked us if we would like to participate in their business.
The Truffle Table and The Truffle Cheese Shop chose not to participate in third party delivery services. Our quality is our brand. As soon as we are out of control of our product, we lose control of the quality. The thing is this: I know how to deliver cheese and not everyone knows how to do that. For us, that is a specific skill that we have honed over years of doing it. It isn't that easy or straightforward. If our customers in Denver want some cheese delivered to them, we can do that! It's just going to be on our terms, on our time, with our staff, who care about our products the same way we do.
From what I have read around the country, this third party delivery trend is not going away. What I hope happens, however, is that the businesses that participate are able to do so on their terms, not on the terms of the corporation or the delivery driver.
Should everyone be able to get whatever they want whenever they want it? Yes. But, know that you are losing some of the experience from that restaurant. You are losing the humanity that goes along with the experience of dining, of shopping at a hardware store or a grocery store. Do you want to know what we sell at The Truffle Cheese Shop and The Truffle Table? Service. Please, allow us to serve you.