‘The new normal’: Restaurant owners anticipate delivery remaining popular after pandemic

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Restaurants were forced to adjust their business model during the pandemic. As indoor dining closed, many restaurants started offering curbside pickup and delivery options.

Using large companies’ delivery drivers comes at an expense.

"The problem with deliveries is they take about 30% of whatever the profit is, and that’s a lot for me, because after they take their 30%, I either break even or I make like 5%," said Jason Zeng, owner of Fan Tang in Albuquerque.

While profit margins aren’t high, Zeng said third-party companies help get the word out about his business.

“I use them for advertising, basically," he said.

Mario’s Pizza uses third-party delivery websites and apps to get new customers. The pizza shop also doesn’t have its own delivery drivers.

"Just to drum up the extra business because a lot of people are using the third-party delivery services,” said Eddy Burgarello, co-owner of Mario’s Pizza.

A restaurant getting its own drivers is a big undertaking, but some, like Range Café, are now thinking about it.

In one month, delivery fees at their locations hit $25,000.

"The margins are so tight with restaurants these days, every little bit helps," said Matt DiGregory, owner of Range Café.

Some owners think deliveries will not die down much even after the pandemic is over.

“I believe even after we’re allowed 100% indoor dining, I believe it’s going to be 40%, 30% of my business. It’s going to be big," Zeng said.

"Delivery is here to stay," DiGregory added. "I think people have gotten used to it. It’s the new normal. I think it’s going to be a change we’re going to have to adapt to and figure out how to make the best of it.”