California Might Crack Down On Delivery App Shenanigans

Have you ever ordered dinner through an app, only to watch your driver circle around and cancel on you? You might be ordering from a restaurant that's not even open, or doesn't know it's listed on that app. In January, we wrote about restaurants that were added to GrubHub without their knowledge or consent, spotlighting a Twitter thread by the owner of a Thai restaurant in San Francisco. Now, the L.A. Times is reporting another, similar story—Andrew Muñoz, the chef of Moo's Craft Barbecue, found his own business on a GrubHub page. One thing, though: Moo's is a Sunday-only pop-up, not available all day every day as the app lists. Restaurant owners like Muñoz are concerned this could be a scam, and that customers could be eating meals made in some warehouse under the guise of being reputable establishments.

The California State Assembly wants to do something about it. In mid-February, Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) introduced AB2149, a bill that would place restrictions on third-party food delivery apps like GrubHub, Seamless, UberEATS, and more. Basically, it'd require delivery apps to get a restaurant's consent before listing it on their sites. In that same Times story, Muñoz contacted GrubHub to have his own restaurant removed from the service, which took the tech company 48-72 hours to accomplish. With this bill, Muñoz and other restaurateurs wouldn't have to proactively jump through hoops to ensure customers are, in fact, eating the dishes they think they are.

As Gonzalez, the bill's sponsor, characterized it: "We need to level the playing field for mom-and-pop restaurants that are being taken advantage of by big tech." Fingers crossed that sometime soon, Californians will be able to sleep soundly knowing who's making their barbecue.