“Everybody in the restaurant industry is just trying to figure out everything right now,” she said. “For me, this is another little helpful tactic to be able to have a stronger connection with getting food to guests for delivery. That really heightened during the pandemic.”
Nationally, restaurant digital orders grew 124 percent in the year that ended in March, according to market research firm NPD Group. Izard expects consumers’ dependence on delivery to continue, and she’s not alone. Fast-casual restaurants in the Loop are redoing their layouts and investing in technology upgrades, anticipating that downtown office workers grabbing lunch will continue to order ahead. Traditional sit-down spots, like Gene & Georgetti’s steakhouse in River North, continue to see delivery orders flood in, even as in-person diners return.
Illinois required restaurants to close indoor dining for more than five months throughout the pandemic. Take-out was the only option then and consumers have been trained to order to-go.
A DoorDash representative declined to comment on how much the company had seen business grow in Chicago during the pandemic. Izard said her West Loop Chinese-inspired restaurant Duck Duck Goat is still doing about 40 percent of its business through delivery orders. Her new bakery, Sugargoat, is also on DoorDash.
Izard said she hopes she can serve as a connection between DoorDash and the restaurants that use the app for delivery as they sort out hiccups, be it with daily deliveries or misunderstood fees.
“With delivery going through the roof really over the past year, there’s a heightened demand for communication,” Izard said, speaking from an airport in Los Angeles, where she’s preparing to open another Girl & the Goat location.
Third-party delivery platforms such as DoorDash have been a point of ire for some restaurant operators, who decried the fees the companies charged them. Some restaurants encourage patrons to order directly from their websites, so they don’t have to share the cut with the delivery companies.
A package of new business rules Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced to City Council Wednesday includes capping the fees that food delivery services can charge restaurants at 15 percent until 180 days after COVID-19 related indoor dining restrictions expire. In the city, indoor dining capacity is still limited to 75 percent, and six feet of social distance must be maintained between tables.
DoorDash has already implemented measures to restructure its fees, such as offering restaurants the option to have a lower fee in return for different services. Izard said she hopes to help assuage such concerns in her new role.
“Part of it is having more transparency and what are those fees and what do they go towards,” she said. “Opening up communication leads to more transparency and gets questions answered.”