What You Missed: Georgia Senate Study Committee on Food Delivery Apps

Posted By: Susie Leggett GRA News , Legislation , State + Local Legislation , Restaurant Industry News ,

On August 23rd, the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) Advocacy team and Georgia restaurateurs testified at the first meeting for a Senate Study Committee on Third-Party Delivery Apps. The study committee was established after Senate Resolution (SR) 428 was passed during the 2022 Legislative Session. A full recording of the meeting can be found here 

Members of the Senate Food Delivery App Study Committee - Find your legislators here 

Senator Elena Parent, Chairperson | District 42 

Senator John Albers | District 56  

Senator Frank Ginn | District 47  

Senator Sally Harrell | District 40  

Senator Harold Jones II | District 22

 Speakers 

Peter Dale | Chef & Partner, the National - Athens, GA 

Brian Huskey | Owner, Gaslight Group LLC - Savannah, GA 

Ryan Pernice | Founder, RO Hospitality – Roswell, GA 

Karen Bremer | President + CEO, Georgia Restaurant Association 

Daniel New | Director of Advocacy, Georgia Restaurant Association  

Background 

Senator Elena Parent expressed interest in third party delivery apps in early 2020 after witnessing the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the restaurant industry. During the 2021 legislative session, Senator Parent introduced SB 205 which would have prohibited third-party delivery apps from charging restaurants certain fees. SB 205 had its first hearing in the Senate’s Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee but ultimately did not make it out of committee. In 2022, Senator Parent introduced SR 428 which allowed the creation of a Senate Study Committee on Food Delivery Apps.   

Testimonies from the Restaurant Industry  

A Lifeline During the Pandemic. Savannah restaurateur, Brian Huskey, had to close several restaurant concepts during the pandemic. For the ones that remained open, using third-party delivery was critical. Roswell restaurateur, Ryan Pernice, testified that nearly 100% of his restaurants’ revenue during the pandemic was from third-party delivery sales.  

Hidden Costs. All three restaurateurs expressed concern over the contract fees charged by third-party delivery apps, thereby leading them to raise their respective menu prices by up to 20% on the app. Athens restaurateur, Peter Dale, shared that some apps offer an in-store pickup feature which requires the customers to pay the inflated prices even though they are picking up their own order. When asked by Senator Frank Ginn if he could offer promotions for customers who order directly through the restaurant’s app, Dale was concerned that this could potentially violate the terms of his contracts with third-party delivery apps.   

Who Handles Customer Complaints? Senator Parent asked whether customer complaints were directed to the restaurant or third-party delivery app customer service representatives. Dale shared that app representatives can be difficult to reach and can only retrieve information from an individual order number. After receiving numerous complaints about missing items or cold meals, Huskey has since implemented a sign-out sheet for delivery drivers that has encouraged accountability and decreased the frequency of customer complaints.   

Food Safety is Paramount. Each restaurateur expressed concern over the lack of proper food handling techniques. Dale acknowledged that while some delivery drivers arrive with insulated bags to transport food at a safe temperature, many do not.  Huskey and Pernice also expressed concern over order pooling which allows delivery drivers to pick up multiple orders in between drop-offs.  Food items could be sitting in the driver’s car for up to an hour depending on restaurant order volume, traffic conditions, etc. GRA President + CEO Karen Bremer reaffirmed the necessity for proper food safety training in accordance with FDA Food Code which is a standard applied to all Georgia restaurants, but not third-party delivery drivers.  

Why Not Local Apps? Although there are a number of independent third-party delivery apps, it can be challenging for them to compete against large aggregates with multi-million-dollar advertising budgets. While some local restaurants have begun to launch their own in-house delivery services, Huskey pointed out the near impossibility of such a project with ongoing staff shortages which he described as the “Second Pandemic.”  

Food For Thought. In her closing remarks, Bremer concurred with restaurateur testimonials and discussed issues that need to be addressed:   

  • False Advertising – Third-party delivery apps should be prohibited from featuring restaurants and their intellectual property (logos, menus, etc.) on their respective platforms without a written agreement. 
  • Transparency – Third-party delivery apps should be required to share customer information with the restaurant so that individual needs can be accommodated.  
  • Liability – Third-party delivery apps should not be absolved of all liability when contracting with a restaurant.  

Want to Learn More? Tentative Committee Meeting Dates are Listed Below: 

August 23, 2022 | Testimonies from Restaurateurs + Georgia Restaurant Association 

October 6, 2022 | Testimonies from Third-Party Delivery Apps 

November 1, 2022 | Presentation of Research Report & Final Vote (no testimony permitted)