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Uber Launches Stand-Alone Food Delivery App With Expanded Options

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They've also teamed up with Philip Foss

Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Today, users who order food through Uber will notice several changes, as the company has launched a stand-alone smartphone app for iOS and Android, while expanding its restaurant list and service hours to all day. Uber won't charge a delivery fee in the interim, said UberEverything Chicago GM Paolo Lorenzoni, but eventually they will tack on a $4.99 fee. This UberEats expansion has already happened in Toronto and Los Angeles, and Chicago goes live today with San Francisco and Houston.

Lorenzoni estimated deliveries will take 30 to 45 minutes. Eventually the UberEats option within the ride-share app will be phased out. Locally, where Amazon's Prime Now is already delivering restaurant food, Uber wants to make a splash with fine diners. They've lured EL Ideas' Philip Foss into the fray, and he's resurrected items from his defunct Meatyballs food truck and will exclusively offer them to UberEats diners once a week. Several Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises spots, like Wow Bao and Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba, are on the expanded list. Delivery now stretches from 8 a.m. to midnight.

"Our origins as a logistic company allows us provide this service more affordably and less costly than others," Lorenzoni said.

There's no minimum dollar amount for the order, differentiating it from Amazon, which often requires a $20 minimum. But Lorenzoni feels that's a good value, as that's all inclusive; Uber doesn't encourage tipping their drivers. The 125 restaurants represent a "curated" list of "popular" spots where "lines form out the door," Lorenzoni added. Unlike the initial form of UberEats, where drivers made rounds with pre-made meals, restaurants will now deliver made-to-order items the same way normal delivery services do. The lunch-friendly, pre-made option —now called "Instant Delivery"— will still be available in the new app during weekdays. Delivery for those meals costs $3.

Services are fighting over restaurants for the right to deliver customers their food. However, there are concerns over how much these services charge restaurants which prevent profitability. The pitch from Uber for restaurants includes the allure of being part of a captive audience already hooked on the company's ride-sharing services. There's also ease of use, as companies don't have to outsource development of an app, instead relying on Uber's digital ecosystem. Uber has also partnered with ChowNow in Chicago trying to lure more restaurants.