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Washington restaurant owners upset after delivery apps sell food without permission

Complaints from across the state could bring on a new law banning apps like Grubhub, DoorDash from offering delivery services without a restaurant's permission.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Food delivery apps providing consumers with an easy way to get fed during the pandemic don't need a restaurant's permission to deliver their food, and it's causing confusion for some Washington restaurant owners.

Chris Knudson, owner of Well 80 Brewhouse in Olympia, started offering take-out and expanded outside seating options as ways to keep his brewpub in business during COVID-19 restrictions.

He chose not to deal with the logistics of offering delivery services, so he was surprised to hear customers were getting his food delivered by companies like Grubhub and DoorDash.

“I googled Well 80 and right there, there's the DoorDash icon,” said Knudson, “What is that? I never even heard of it before.”

The companies offer consumers the ease of ordering food from their computers or phones.

Spokespeople for both companies said while the majority of their restaurants are partners, they do have some who may be linked to the website unknowingly.

Both company spokespeople said owners can opt their businesses out of the service.

Knudson said he has repeatedly opted out because he does not trust another company’s employees to deliver his food.

He and other Olympia restaurant owners, who did not give the companies permission to deliver their food, said the companies post outdated menus resulting in complaints.

Anthony Anton, president and C.E.O. of the Washington Hospitality Association, said complaints from restaurant owners across the state could prompt calls for a new state law banning the practice of companies offering delivery services without a restaurant’s permission.

He said in a year where restaurants are closing at a record rate, deliveries can keep businesses alive, so those owners should have control of who is delivering their product.

“That’s why these relationships should go back to the companies, be negotiated, figure it out together about how do the third party companies win, and the restaurants win, and right now that’s not the case,” said Anton.

A spokesperson for Uber Eats, another third party delivery company, said it does not delivery for restaurants in Washington state without an owner’s permission.

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