The Jersey City Council began the new year unanimously approving (8-0) an ordinance that would cap third-party delivery fees for local restaurants at 15 percent.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
“Thank you guys for doing this for us,” said Elena Cartegana, of the restaurant Pasta Dal Cuore on Jersey Avenue.
She noted they have been there for five years and the fees coming from delivery services like Postmates are “crazy.”
During the pandemic, Cartagena said it has been crucial for restaurants to negotiate with third-party delivery services.
“Since quarantine, it’s been the main way we’ve been able to survive … It really does help a lot.”
Delivery fees were very high for restaurants even before the pandemic, she added.
“It’s been a very challenging time for restaurants over the past nine months,” said Andrew Martino, owner of the Ghost Truck Kitchen restaurant.
Martino said a very significant portion of their walk-in and catering business customers has been cut due to the pandemic.
“This is a huge difference for us … We’re 100 percent reliant on takeout and delivery. These guys, the third-party apps spend a tremendous amount of money marketing to consumers in the area … We know that’s where the customers are.”
Marino joined Ward E Councilman James Solomon, the sponsor of the local legislation, in discussing the importance of the ordinance during a live Zoom call with HCV last month.
“I want to thank some of the restaurants that reached out to me about the fee issue,” Solomon added.
He noted he worked with Mayor Steven Fulop and his council colleagues to craft and craft the ordinance since New Jersey state caps on delivery fees expired at the end of last year.
When the pandemic began in the spring, Fulop and the council were quick to impose caps on the delivery fees that were eating into restaurants’ profit margins before the state stepped in.
Solomon explained there are only a few food delivery companies, so it is not a competitive market. The few companies operating are not willing to share their data. Moreover, they insert their links into a restaurant’s ad page to further garner traffic.
“It gives the restaurants a little extra boost to get them through the next couple of difficult months … All of us are hoping this pandemic ends sooner than later,” Solomon added.
“Thanks Councilman Solomon for taking this up,” Councilman-at-Large Rolando Lavarro said.
“James, you get another compliment: great job,” noted Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera before voting yes.