Vancouver-based delivery app FromTo wants to expand across Canada

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In the pivot to survive COVID-19’s wrecking ball, restaurants offering delivery are facing another obstacle: the staggering fees charged by third-party providers like UberEats, Door Dash, SkipTheDishes, and Foodora.

A Vancouver restaurateur is biting back.

Brandon Grossutti, owner of PiDGiN, an Asian-French fusion restaurant in the city’s Gastown neighbourhood, is launching an at-cost delivery service for indie restaurants that he hopes to take right across the country.  

“I feel like we are getting kicked while we are down with high fees ranging between 20 and 30 percent by the delivery companies,” says Grossutti. “Our bricks-and-mortar businesses are not set up for these high commissions, and there has to be a way for us to rally together to create something quick that is at a lower rate that we all contribute to collectively. 

“We have a massive amount of unemployed people in the sector all across Canada – estimates are 700,000 of a 1.2 million workforce,” he says. “If we can get them into delivery or logistics jobs, we can help stem some of the pain that our friends and colleagues are in.”

The current landscape of third-party services has other drawbacks besides high fees charged to restaurants, Grossutti adds. They can charge fees to the customer in addition to charging the restaurant; some apps mark up products without the outlet’s knowledge; and there’s a centralization of profits that don’t benefit the local economy, he says.

“Current third-party apps don’t have the best interest of the restaurant at heart,” he adds.  

Introducing FromTo. With experience in the software industry and coding, Grossutti has spent countless hours over the past several weeks creating the delivery solution.

FromTo’s at-cost end-to-end model has no transaction fees, no marking up of restaurant prices, and no percentage of gross amounts taken off the order. The only cost will be delivery and the credit-card transaction fees, neither of which will be marked up by FromTo.

FromTo is starting up this week with PiDGiN as Restaurant 1 and a 5.5-kilometre delivery radius.

On May 19, a beta group of four to five more restaurants will launch.

“If all goes well, we will add neighbourhood by neighbourhood, restaurant by restaurant, everyday thereafter,” Grossutti says. “The plan is to work collectively with independent restaurants across Canada.”

FromTo is looking for drivers and wants to hear from restaurants in Vancouver and anywhere else in Canada. 

In Toronto, Miss Thing’s owner Nav Sangha has begun offering Ambassador, an IT and e-commerce platform for food service for free to local restaurants. More than 50 have since signed up, including Donna’s, Sugo, Bar Poet and more. 

This story originally appeared in the Georgia Straight.

@GailJohnsonVan