Showing Up for Independent Restaurants

May 31, 2024 | Press

Showing Up for Independent Restaurants During Small Business Month and Beyond

With more than 355,000 restaurant partners in over 4,000 U.S. cities, connecting hungry diners with local restaurants is at the heart of what Grubhub does. Grounded firmly in our small business beginnings, our platform would not be possible without our independent restaurant partners that work day-in and day-out to feed their local communities.

It’s our mission to help strengthen small business’ roots, deepen their connections, and increase the positive impact they have on their neighbors and society. As people across the country recognize Small Business Month this May, we celebrate our independent restaurant partners who are the lifeblood of their local communities and double down on the ways we support small businesses to help them grow and thrive for years to come.

How we help restaurant partners reach new customers

Grubhub connects independent restaurants on our platform with new diners through our marketing and advertising services. It’s already tough for small businesses to compete with the big chains and their bigger ad budgets. But during the pandemic, it became even more challenging to stand out when nearly 100 jurisdictions passed laws limiting the marketing services restaurants could opt into on third-party delivery apps, putting smaller, mom-and-pop businesses at a major disadvantage. While most of these Covid-era restrictions have expired, one does remain – in New York City. Grubhub supports the NYC Council’s recent compromise proposal to finally ease these restrictions – the only such restrictions left in the country – and give NYC’s small businesses the flexibility to choose how they grow and reach new customers.

Beatrice Ajaero, Owner of Nneji in Queens, opened her brick and mortar in 2020 as a “groc-rant model” – part grocery store, which offers pantry items from around the globe, and part restaurant serving plant-based West African cuisine. Opening during the pandemic, Nneji had to rely heavily on third-party delivery from the beginning – helping give the family-business a competitive presence in a sea of restaurants.

“When we joined the platform, Grubhub became our in-house marketer, advertiser and deliverer. Otherwise, we could not have afforded these services,” said Ajaero. Since opening four years ago, Ajaero continues to see the power of Grubhub’s tools and service. “In addition to delivery, Grubhub helps us reach new customers through its marketing and advertising support, and provides us data on our orders. It’s a really helpful tool to learn about customer preference – we see what menu items our diners are trying and when they are placing orders.”

Thanks to her partnership with Grubhub, Ajaero is hopeful for the future of her restaurant and is optimistic that she will continue making an impact on her local community. “As a family-owned business, third-party delivery services are a worthwhile investment because they provide so many opportunities to share our food with the community,” said Ajaero. “To me, Grubhub is a lifeline for independent restaurants. Once the City’s cap on marketing services is relaxed, I can only imagine how many new customers we’ll be able to reach.”

How we help restaurant partners improve their operations

We also support our restaurants by investing in partnerships and programs that allow us to create access to capital and offer business development opportunities for local, family-owned businesses. Throughout the year, we support several grant programs in partnership with diverse business and community-based organizations to help independent restaurants grow and thrive in their local communities.

Julie Kim, Co-owner of Parklife Taqueria in Brooklyn, opened her original restaurant concept in 2017, and immediately started using Grubhub to deliver and market their artfully crafted tacos and other Mexican-inspired staples with Iranian and Texan influence. “It was challenging to open a restaurant, but Grubhub was super helpful in growing the business and helping diners understand our fusion menu through their marketing services,” said Kim.

The pandemic created challenges for the restaurant, forcing Parklife to close. Today, Kim still experiences the impact of shutting down her restaurant. While expanded options for delivery helped keep the orders coming in, Kim had to furlough staff, working with only two people onsite. The rising food and utility costs in New York also made it hard to maintain the restaurant. Even after partnering with Grubhub to make deliveries easier, one challenge remained: educating new customers on the restaurant’s fusion menu.

Parklife’s luck started to turn when Kim received a grant from Grubhub and the National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship (ACE) in 2023, to revitalize the business. The funding allowed the restaurant to maintain operations, pay utilities, keep its staff and buy supplies. “Many small businesses don’t have the opportunity to receive funding outside for loans, so I was delightfully surprised and grateful to learn Parklife could receive a grant as a for-profit business,” said Kim.