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Uber announces food delivery service in North Jersey market

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The UberEATS app will let you place delivery orders from your smartphone.
The UberEATS app will let you place delivery orders from your smartphone. - ()

Imagine what it would be like to have a pizza delivered right to your bench as you sit alongside the Hoboken Waterfront Walkway on a sunny day.

Uber is aiming to make that reality possible, announcing its new food delivery app, UberEATS, on Thursday at its location in Hoboken. 

“You may have used Uber, the ride sharing app, to order a car very quickly and seamlessly,” Prabhdeep Singh, general manager for UberEATS New Jersey, said. “The idea behind UberEATS is to do the same thing using a separate app for food.

“Our mission is to make eating well effortless at any time for anyone.”

The San Francisco-based online transportation and rideshare service launched its newest app-based service in New Jersey on Thursday with over 100 restaurant partners in the Hudson and Bergen County areas thus far.

“It works like this: You tell us where you are, and a list of restaurants will quickly pop within your range. You click on the restaurant, look through the menu, order your food and, with one click or tap, your credit card is loaded onto the app,” Singh said. “Then, as soon as you click ‘order,’ the restaurant receives a ping, accepts the order and, when it is ready, will ping Uber to dispatch a car or a bike courier to pick up the food and deliver it to you. Users also can track the food coming to them in real time.”

Customers pay a flat fee of $4.99 per delivery, while restaurant partners pay an undisclosed fee to UberEATS for their services.

What started as an experiment in Toronto in 2015 quickly expanded into cities such as Los Angeles and New York City last year. Today, UberEATS is in more than 66 cities in more than 20 countries and has more than 30,000 restaurant partners around the globe.

“Our differentiator is that we can tap into our existing Uber network to make sure that the delivery is faster and more transparent than our competitors,” Craig Ewer, spokesperson for Uber New Jersey, said.

“We also pride ourselves on our accuracy and transparency so that customers know exactly what is happening when it is happening,” Singh said.

Numerous restaurants, including Bareburger, Café Sheeroo and Silli Point Indian Fusion in Bergen County and Just BeClaws, The Hamilton Inn and Razza Pizza Artigianale in Hudson County, were eager to sign up early.

“Razza is proud to partner with UberEATS as our exclusive delivery service,” Dan Richer, owner of Razza Pizza Artigianale in Jersey City, said. “Uber has logistics down to a science and I am super-confident in their ability to provide the same level of care in delivering our food as we provide our guests in-house.

Richer said Razza Pizza Artigianale had not considered delivering before it was approached by UberEATS due to the headaches that typically come with issues of liability and communication.

“Our restaurant is very small, and we are not set up as a counter service restaurant where we have somebody constantly manning a telephone,” Richer said. “To have a company like Uber take care of all of that for us is really just found money. We are able to expand our reach without being confined to the amount of tables that we have in our 1,200-square-foot restaurant.”

Richer said it took all of five minutes to set up the technology in order to accommodate UberEATS within his restaurant on Wednesday.

“Uber really looked at this from the restaurant’s perspective,” he said. “They took into account how I would feel about the user experience. We simply sent them our menu and they set it up for us. They even had a photographer come in to take beautiful shots of our food.

“I didn’t want to simply use one of the other delivery services out there that my restaurant would just get lost in the mix of. We wanted someone who would feature and invest in us.”

The ability to control the flow of business and menu items when using UberEATS sealed the deal for their partnership, Richer said.

“We can turn any aspect of UberEATS off when we are incredibly busy and push it when we are not,” he said. “The control aspect is crucial — I would not have done this without the ability to change the menu myself and have control of timing. The guest experience, whether they are at home or in my dining room, is of the utmost importance to me.”

UberEATS is eager to expand business for restaurants throughout the state by providing or increasing its delivery radius and creating awareness by marketing to new customers.

“Globally, our restaurants can deliver food within an average of 14 minutes, which is very fast when it comes to food delivery service,” Singh said. “A lot of that has to do with our ability to understand the technology and logistics it takes to get food from point A to point B.”

New Jersey alone has more than 13,000 residents who drive for Uber. It was not disclosed how many of them also will be participating with UberEATS.

“This is another great way for drivers to earn flexibly through the platform,” Ewer said. “For example, this can help existing drivers fill in slower times. If people aren’t taking rides around lunchtime, that is exactly when UberEATS might kick in. They will always have something to keep them busy.

“Also, sometimes drivers might feel like they would rather deliver food than pick up people,” Singh said. “And, there is a whole other category of people that this opens up the ability to earn.

“If you have a two-door vehicle, you cannot drive for Uber. All of a sudden, now you can.”

Singh said that, although UberEATS plans to rapidly expand throughout the state, the company will only continue to partner with a diverse mix of restaurants in areas where it makes strategic sense to do so.

“We will not enter an area unless we know that we can still be reliable and fast,” he said.

Right now, Uber users reside mostly in Hudson County.

“But UberEATS is just the beginning of our expansion into what we call Uber ‘everything,’ ” Ewer said. “We are taking the idea of, if you can push a button and get a car, what else can you get?

“We are starting with food and are always looking into what is next.”

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