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Big Apps Made a Meal Out of Local Restaurants. Food Delivery Co-Ops Are Fighting Back.

Can locally owned delivery squads take on Grubhub, Uber Eats, and DoorDash?

When Grubhub came to Iowa City in 2017, Jon Sewell got what he describes as a “call to action.” He owns a D.P. Dough franchise there and had been using a delivery service called OrderUp to get his calzones to college students. But then Grubhub bought out OrderUp and doubled the commission on orders to an astronomical 30 percent, plus fees. At those rates, Sewell says, he lost money on every order.

So in January 2018, Sewell joined forces with about 25 Iowa City restaurant owners who chipped in to launch their own delivery co-op called Chomp. The business, which now employs five to seven people full time and about 100 independent drivers, caps commissions below 20 percent, redistributes profits to the co-op members, and offers local customer service, which Grubhub had outsourced.