As most restaurants pivot to delivery and takeout-only business models to stay afloat during the coronavirus-related shutdowns, customers are likely to order indirectly from their favorite restaurants through third-party delivery apps. Although many delivery companies like GrubHub are currently deferring or reducing fees, restaurants need as much direct income as possible during this time of crisis.
But how will customers find their favorite restaurants when the easiest way to search is by scrolling through GrubHub or UberEats? Enter Catch22 Delivery: a brand-new digital directory for restaurants that founder Olga Sagan and is calling, “the restaurant industry Yellow Pages” for the modern era: a free (for now) platform for restaurants to promote their businesses.
“[Catch22] allows us to control the message and allows flexibility to use third party or not,” Sagan said. “We take our power back as business owners.”
Sagan, who also owns Seattle-based, three-unit Russian bakery Piroshky Piroshky, got the idea for Catch22 Delivery last week as more cities and states began to completely shut down public spaces. On Wednesday, she built the site with colleagues and other owners of local Seattle businesses. The website was launched Saturday, March 21, with just a handful of restaurants listed. In just a few days, word got out, and Catch22 had more than 100 local restaurants in its directory.
Currently, the only participating restaurants in the digital service are local to the Seattle area or other parts of Washington state, but Sagan sees the platform going national. Her goal is to help small restaurant businesses around the country improve their digital presence without relying on third-party delivery sites as a crutch.
“The smaller the restaurant, the less negotiation power we have [with third-party delivery sites],” Sagan said. “We pay fees to them and they charge customers more too. By getting our power back, we can get to know our customers and directly communicate with them. […] It gives us the power to improve visibility.”
Since the service is just starting out, Catch22 Delivery is bound to undergo some changes as more and more restaurants sign up. Right now, each directory listing includes the name of the restaurant, location, and a brief description along with a link to place an order. Some of the listings directly link back to the restaurant’s website, while many of them still link back to third-party delivery services like Agave Cocina and Cantina, a casual Mexican restaurant with a listing on Catch22 that allows customers to order off of DoorDash.
Having local restaurants all in one place is especially helpful during this time of crisis, Sagan said, and the goal is to help restaurants market their restaurants more independently.
“People are very generous and helpful and want to order from businesses, especially if they know they are helping you directly instead of some out-of-state organization,” Sagan said.
Although right now the service is free, as it expands, Sagan might implement a monthly listing fee for restaurants, but she says that even $15 per month does not compare with the fees that restaurants have to contend with for using third-party delivery.
“[By deferring fees] they’re disabling restaurants from learning how to deliver themselves,” Sagan said. “Restaurants need to look at their business models and figure out if now is a good time to invest in [in-house delivery]. Even if third-party delivery services are charging restaurants no money right now, it will just go back to the way it was before, so this is a good time to become more self-sufficient.”
Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi
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