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.
That extra cost, as well as a staffing issue, is why restaurants started to turn to third-party delivery services like Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash. Some restaurants have been scrambling to sign up with one of these services as they strive to stay open and provide takeout food and some sort of paycheck for staff.
But most of the third-party companies take as much as 30 percent of the order, even those that are touting “free delivery” during the crisis. The fee may not be charged to the customer but the restaurant still has to fork over 30 percent.
Most restaurants have been barely breaking even, trying to stay open just to keep their staff working.
When I asked last week on Facebook and Twitter if any restaurants were offering delivery by staffers, I heard from several who said they would like to but the insurance issue was standing in the way.
Greg Granda, co-owner of Shakers American Cafe in College Park, said in a Facebook reply: “I was advised by my insurance company not to allow employees to use their vehicles for delivery or any other business related reason. The liability will fall back to the company.”
But following the recommendation from OIR last week, Granda again contacted his insurance company, Old Dominion, and was given the go ahead. Shakers had been using Uber Eats
Soco of Thornton Park, too, has begun offering delivery of its takeout menu using staff members. The popular downtown restaurant had not been using a third party delivery service because of the high fee. “We’re just breaking even with takeout,” chef/partner Greg Richie said.
Restaurants that are offering takeout menus are providing a valuable service during the mandatory stay at home order. And even though going to a restaurant to pickup a takeout order is considered essential travel, having the food brought to your doorstep helps avoid unnecessary contact.
And it’s nice to know that the proceeds and tips will go into the pockets of the restaurants we enjoyed patronizing before the pandemic.
Here is a list of other restaurants that indicated to me that they provide staff-serviced delivery:
Hunger Street Tacos
La Femme du Fromage
Yellow Dog Eats
Chef’s Table at the Edgewater
Uncommon Catering & Eatery
Reel Coastal Kitchen
Pop Parlour (coming)
Goodfella’s Pizzeria & Italian
Tap Room at Dubsdread
Osprey Tavern (Baldwin Park only)
Hinkley’s Fancy Meats
Vineyard Wine Bar
Sanford Brewing Co.
Saffron Indian Cuisine