Restaurants Beginning to Offer Staff-Serviced Delivery

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Shakers Uber doorstep

Local restaurants are beginning to offer delivery service provided by sidelined staff members thanks to a memorandum from Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) that was championed by state representative Anna V. Eskamani (D-Orlando).

The memo, issued Wednesday by insurance commissioner David Altmaier, recommends insurers operating in Florida allow exemptions to auto policies to allow restaurant workers to be covered when using their cars for food delivery as long as the governor’s Emergency Orders proclamation is in place. The recommendation stops short of a mandate, such as was declared in Wisconsin.

The issue is that restaurants and their employees could be liable in case of an accident when using their cars without a specific policy rider, which can cost as much as $14,000 a year, according to one restaurant owner. If workers were to have an accident without such a policy, they – and their employers – could be sued for damages. Some restaurants that offer delivery year round, even when there isn’t a pandemic, have proper insurance as standard operating procedure.

Soco Offering Free Dinner for Hospitality Workers

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Soco bar

Soco Thornton Park is offering a free dinner to Central Florida hospitality workers affected by the coronavirus shutdowns. And thanks to Sipsmith Gin, the dinner will include a free drink. (Whenever I dine in at Soco I always request my negroni be made with Sipsmith; good stuff.)

The offer is for Thursday, April 2, with pickup of the takeout meals between 5 and 8:30 p.m. Restaurant and hospitality workers who would like to accept the offer should let the restaurant know by Wed., April 1, so chef/partner Greg Richie and his crew will know how many meals to prepare. You can let them know by calling the restaurant at 407-849-1800. Soco is at 629 E. Central Blvd., Orlando.

“It’s traditional that restaurants will have a family meal for the staff,” Richie said by phone Monday, “and just knowing that a lot of people are not working and struggling, we thought it would be nice to bring back” the family meal.

The dinner will include Quinoa Salad, Chicken Pot Pie, Berry-Peach Bread Pudding and a cocktail made with Sipsmith Gin, or, if you’re not a gin person, Maker’s Mark Bourbon.

Richie said the meal is open to a wide range of hospitality workers, including delivery drivers and purveyors, whether currently working or not.

Soco is prepared to do up to a hundred meals Thursday and will strive to spread out the pickup times so that social distancing guidelines can be followed.

Soco is also offering daily takeout and delivery, which is provided by the restaurant’s staff.

Fundraiser Established to Benefit DeLand Restaurant Workers

Written by Scott Joseph on .


Deland gofundme

Judy Thompson, a DeLand philanthropist, and Hari and Jenneffer Pulapaka of Cress Restaurant have established a GoFundMe account to assist workers of downtown DeLand’s independently owned restaurants who have been financially affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A statement on the fundraiser’s page says that 100 percent of the net donations will go to cooks, dishwashers, servers and other support staff who have worked for an independent and locally owned restaurant within the downtown district for at least one month.

The effort had raised $8,670 of the $25,000 target as of Friday morning.

In a message, Hari Pulapaka said there are about 25 restaurants that would qualify, each with an average of 10 workers, so he estimates that 250 individuals will be eligible for the funds. He said, however, “not everyone will apply or, in some cases, qualify.” He added, “If this fund can help 100 individuals, it will be significant.”

Workers seeking assistance must fill out a form that will be reviewed by a “small group of non-aligned volunteers,” he said.

To see the list of criteria for the distribution of the funds or to make a donation, visit the Covid-19 DeLand Restaurants Employees Fund page.

GoFundMe is a for-profit crowdfunding site that allows groups and individuals to ask for donations for a variety of situations.

Restaurants May be Allowed to Use Staff Members to Deliver Takeout Orders

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Screen Shot 2020 03 25 at 4.27.07 PM

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) has issued a memorandum that may allow restaurants to use staff members to deliver takeout food.

The memorandum, from commissioner David Altmaier, in part asks for “the removal of exclusions on certain personal auto exclusions.” That segment of the memo from OIR, which was issued Wednesday, reads:

“In furtherance of the state’s efforts to limit large gatherings while remaining open, many restaurants and other businesses are offering delivery of goods and services. As a result, many insureds may be temporarily utilizing their personal automobile for purposes that might otherwise be considered commercial use. Regulated entities are encouraged to consider allowing such use for insureds, provided that such use is limited to the duration of the Emergency Orders.”

Encouraged is the operative word there, not ordered. It will be up to the individual insurance companies to decide if they will to follow the recommendation. In Wisconsin, the governor and insurance commissioner issued an order for insurance companies to cover delivery services for restaurants on personal auto insurance policies, and to offer coverage for those drivers on a restaurant’s general liability insurance.

Florida State representative Ann V. Eskamani told me that the larger insurance companies seem to be more open to allowing the use of personal cars for work than smaller insurers.

On Tuesday I asked restaurant owners if they were using idle staff members, such as servers, to deliver takeout orders. Several said they would like to offer the service – and give the staff the chance to work and earn tips – but they found the insurance rider that would be necessary to cover the drivers too expensive. Most that offer delivery use third party service, such as Uber Eats or Grubhub, which take a significant percentage of the restaurant's charge for the food.

This may be the solution, at least as long as the governor’s executive Emergency Order is in place.

Restaurant owners who want to offer this service should contact their insurance representative.

Restaurateurs: Let me know if you get the go-ahead from your insurance company. And especially let me know if your insurance company declines to follow the OIR’s recommendation.