CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago tech entrepreneur is hoping to take on the big guys in the restaurant ordering world, but how do you compete when everyone knows DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats?
CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory takes us inside the fight to make BellyMelly a household name.
Sales aren’t exactly sizzling at Stacked and Folded in Evanston. Revenue that does come in gets chopped up.
“The biggest impact we’re getting is these third parties are taking 20, 30, sometimes 42 percent,” owner Josh Keating said.
Keating shared a recent receipt showing a customer paid $123 for their order from Stacked and Folded, but the restaurant got only $85 of that. Nearly $40, or 30%, went to the online ordering platform.
“They’re not profitable for any small business to survive,” Keating said.
So Keating is turning up the heat on vendors like Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats.
“We are in the process of phasing them out,” he said.
He’s using Chicago-based BellyMelly, which charges restaurants only 5% for its online ordering service. How can the fees be so much lower?
“I think the big win is this is a privately funded company. I don’t have any investors that are forcing me to hit milestones,” BellyMelly CEO David Litchman said.
BellyMelly orders are for pick-up, and don’t include delivery. The technology also offers an all-in-one-tabletop system that could bring more people back to restaurants.
“It allows the customer to place the order, modify the order, and on checkout add a tip and pay,” Litchman said.
It’s nearly contactless dining experience.
“The only interaction that really transpires is when the food is brought to the customer,” Litchman said.
What happens if you need something like more ketchup?
“You’d have to flag your server,” Litchman said.
A simple tap can order more food or a second round of drinks. Less face-to-face interaction will be increasingly important as winter approaches and business moves indoors.
“You kind of hit the nail on the head right there with the nervousness. I’ll be honest with you, my staff right now, they’re concerned about the virus,” Keating said.
From feeling comfortable to warm and fuzzy; BellyMelly incorporates donations to local charities into each purchase.
“It’s connecting customers with the community and the restaurants,” Litchman said.
Stacked and Folded picked Evanston Fight For Black Lives. A dollar per order on BellyMelly will come out of his pocket and to Evanston Fight For Black Lives.
Isn’t that a little hard right now?
“I think it’s important,” Keating said; scraping by, and helping others along the way.
You don’t need an app to use BellyMelly in a restaurant, because your phone can just scan the QR Code and be linked to the BellyMelly website. The challenge for pickup orders is making sure people know about the platform.
BellyMelly raised more than $5,000 for charity in the past few months. More than 150 Chicago area restaurants are in the company’s portal. The CEO said more places are signing up each week.