Restaurant delivery can save you money

take out foodEating out won't save you money, but getting a restaurant meal delivered to your home can by eliminating the other expenses that can come with dining out.

Add up the costs of gas, parking and hiring a babysitter, and a night out for dinner can get costly. And then throw in a 15-20% tip at the restaurant, vs. 10% tips that are typical for delivery guys, and paying 20-30% more for alcohol at a restaurant than you would at home, and eating in doesn't sound so bad.

"If you're going to order delivery, you can get the two buck chuck or whatever six-pack you have in the fridge, and you save money right there," said Matt Maloney, co-founder and CEO of GrubHub, an online site that makes ordering delivery food easy.

GrubHub provides online menus for restaurants in many major metro areas: Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, with San Diego being added in March.

Forget the idea that delivery food is limited to pizza and bad Chinese food. GrubHub has more than 10,000 delivery restaurants that customers can order from online or by phone, and also has online coupons. There's no fee to use the service, only the delivery charge that the restaurant normally charges, often $2 or less, or free with a minimum order.

For someone too exhausted from a day at work to make dinner, food delivery is an inexpensive way to enjoy restaurant food at home, Maloney told WalletPop in a telephone interview from his office in Chicago.

"You don't have time to go to the Italian place and enjoy yourself," he said. "You just want to sit down, chill and enjoy your meal."

Meal delivery isn't for the person who wants to go out and enjoy the atmosphere of a restaurant, but is for the person who wants to relax at home.

"We all sort of had that dusty menu drawer with lots of old menus inside of it," said Ari Feingold, director of marketing at Asqew Grill in San Francisco and has seen the restaurant's delivery business take off by 50% since joining with GrubHub a year and a half ago.

GrubHub gets about 10% of an order after the customer has paid, which can be done online through GrubHub or in cash when the food arrives, Maloney said. The site works so well that Asqew Grill uses GrubHub's ordering system on its Web site, so to order delivery from the restaurant, which specializes in grilled skewers, Asqew Grill sends customers from its Web site to GrubHub.

Estimated delivery times are given to GrubHub. Using an algorithm that includes weather, distance from the restaurant and other things, GrubHub sends customers a more exact delivery time after the restaurant has received the order.

The meal itself will still cost as much as it did in the restaurant, but the cost of a babysitter, gas, parking, wine service and a costly waiter can be put into your pocket for another dinner delivery.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area who can be found at

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