Grubhub letter falsely lists NYC restaurants that support loosening delivery cap fee
Several Big Apple restaurant owners were named without their knowledge in a letter sent to local politicians by Grubhub in a lobbying push to amend a law that limits what food delivery companies can charge the eateries, The Post has learned.
One of the missives sent last month to City Council member Carmen De La Rosa named 23 businesses in her Washington Heights district.
However, at least seven of the restaurant owners did not know anything about the letter until it was brought to their attention by the New York State Latino Restaurant, Bar and Lounge Association, multiple owners told The Post.
The letter also named people who did not own the restaurants.
“This is obviously an attempt to use us without our consent to push through legislation,” said Gus Anton, owner of The Park View restaurant at 219 Dyckman St. “I was outraged by the letter,” which listed Pedro Reyes – who is unknown to Anton – as a representative of the 50-seat eatery that serves sandwiches, salads and pastries.
Sandra Jaquez, owner of Sa’tacos at 231 Dyckman St., was similarly shocked to learn that her restaurant was a signatory and represented by Matteo Costa.
“I have no idea who Matteo Costa is,” Jaquez said. “I never agreed to the letter and I’m not for this [legislation],” she added.
Five other restaurant owners – Marisco Centro, Grito Mexican Grill, Burgos, Amore Cafe and Malecon Restaurant – also did not consent to being listed on the letter, according to Jeffrey Garcia, president of the Latino Restaurant, Bar and Lounge Association.
“Any document they put out now has to be questioned because of these discrepancies we found,” Garcia said.
De La Rosa was unavailable for comment her spokesperson, Fraynette Familia, said.
The identical form letter was sent to other City Council members listing restaurants in their districts, according to one Council member, who did not want to be identified, but confirmed that it was sent by a Grubhub lobbyist.
A Grubhub spokesman declined to comment about the letter when reached by The Post on Wednesday.
The letter is the latest skirmish in a pitched lobbying battle between the food delivery companies and restaurant trade groups, who are fighting to keep the fee cap on the books as the City Council prepares for hearings on the issue.
In 2021, legislators passed the fee cap, which restricts the industry from charging restaurants more than 20% per takeout order. The law allows the industry to charge 15% for delivery and 5% for other fees such as marketing.
The food delivery companies are backing a bill introduced last November that would loosen the fee cap.
“Groups working on behalf of big restaurants have consistently misled members of the industry about this legislation,” the Grubhub rep told The Post. “To-date, more than 500 representatives from restaurants across the five boroughs have voiced their support for this common sense change to make their own marketing decisions and better compete with big brands. And it’s encouraging that more than half the City Council has co-sponsored this bill to empower small, locally-owned businesses.”
The City Council has not set a date for a future hearing on the issue.
Grubhub, Doordash and UberEats are also suing the city to overturn the 2021 law, which was implemented in 2020 to help restaurants weather the pandemic.
A growing number of 26 Council members, including Marjorie Velazquez (D-Bronx), Eric Dinowitz (D-Bronx) and Vicke Paladino (R-Queens) support amending the law – alarming a large contingent of restaurants who don’t want to reverse the fee cap.
On Tuesday, some 900 restaurant owners delivered a letter to the City Council entitled “Say No To The Bigger Fees For The Big Delivery Bill.”
“There is an aggressive lobbying campaign alleging there is a grassroots campaign to get rid of the fee cap from restaurants and community groups,” according to the letter, which was shared with The Post. “However it is being funded and coordinated by a major delivery company that stands to benefit greatly.”
The letter was spearheaded by the NYC Hospitality Alliance and the Latino Restaurant Bar and Lounge Association, which represent more than 4,000 eateries in the city.
“It’s very concerning that so many progressive Council members have signed on to gutting this restaurant protection on behalf of billion dollar companies,” Hospitality Alliance executive director, Andrew Rigie said.
“We are gearing up because they are spending a tremendous amount of money on lobbying and are engaging in questionable tactics,” Rigie added.