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Seattle council passes bill allowing restaurants to turn away food delivery services

A Postmates sticker is displayed on the window of a restaurant. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Seattle restaurants will soon be able to opt out of food delivery services, thanks to a newly-passed bill from city councilmembers.

How delivery apps use restaurants without owners knowing

The bill — passed unanimously on Monday — makes it so that food delivery apps have to get the consent of a restaurant in order to list them on their respective platforms.

This comes after complaints from restaurant owners, many of whom have said that too many third-party services were taking orders with no concern for mistakes or misrepresentation. That’s led to unhappy customers who blame restaurants, rather than the company that placed and picked up the order.

Restaurants listed on food delivery platforms also have little to no control over updating their menus on apps, or even whether they’re listed on the app in the first place.

“I have no control over our menu and the delivery services are always wrong,” said Miki Sodos, owner of Cafe Pettirosso and Bang Bang Cafe, in a written release. “The drivers will not communicate with the customers for us, so we sub to the best of our ability. Sometimes we end up with angry customers because they did not get the order they asked for, and it is completely out of our control.”

Seattle’s street dining is here to stay — at least for a while

In practice, this new bill requires food delivery services to enter into a written agreement with any Seattle restaurant prior to offering delivery or takeout, while offering restaurants the option to terminate that agreement down the line.

The measure was sponsored by Council President Lorena Gonzalez, who touted it as a necessary step toward helping restaurants stay afloat at the tail-end of a year-long pandemic that’s seen a significant uptick in delivery and takeout.

“During COVID, our small businesses and restaurants faced incredible challenges, and have used their entrepreneurial insight to pivot their business models,” she said Monday. “While some restaurants found success utilizing food delivery platforms, others restaurants that did not sign up for those platforms have found challenges to being on those apps.”

Should it be signed into law by Mayor Jenny Durkan, the bill would take effect on Sept. 15, 2021.

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