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Avondale Restaurant Owner Looks For Answers After Caviar Delivery Gone Awry

“I am 67 years old so it is assault on a senior citizen”

A variety of different pizzas.
These pizzas can be delivered.
Pisolino [Official Photo]
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.

The owner of Pisolino, an Italian restaurant in Avondale, received a strange phone call Friday night. The caller, a 67-year-old man, told owner James De Marte that a delivery man showed up to his Rogers Park residence with a pizza from the restaurant. The problem, the man said, was that he had never made an order.

When the Rogers Park man opened the door and to tell the delivery man this, he claimed, the delivery man became agitated and shoved the 67-year-old, hit him in the head with the pizza box, then threw the pizza into the street. The Caviar man showed up to the wrong address, which is something the delivery man would later admit to the company, according to a spokesperson for DoorDash (which also represents Caviar).

Caviar was purchased by DoorDash in August. Third-party delivery companies are in the spotlight as dining rooms across the country remain closed. Grubhub called a news conference at Chicago City Hall to announce it would defer some of its fees it charges restaurants during the crisis. Grubhub officials didn’t offer full details on their plan during that March conference. Those details have only recently come to light. DoorDash/Caviar is Grubhub’s biggest competitor.

De Marte said Caviar charges Pisolino 20 to 25 percent per order for delivery. That's a substantial amount of money, De Marte said. Given that, he’s frustrated that the company has yet to contact him. He tweeted at them six times, left a message on the phone, and wrote an email on Friday night. He wanted answers for the Rogers Park man and to avoid a negative online review.

The man, dazed from the encounter on Friday night, was angry and called Pisolino. De Marte recalled listening to the man’s account. He try to calm him down, apologizing for the incident but also saying Pisolino didn’t employ the delivery man, as he worked for Caviar. The man bought the explanation, and told De Marte that he wanted to sue Caviar. On Saturday, after filing a police report, he would email De Marte: “And I am 67 years old so it is assault on a senior citizen,” the message read.

The delivery man did not share anything with Caviar management about shoving the Rogers Park man or throwing the pizza on the sidewalk outside the man’s home. Photos sent by the 67 year old (and reviewed by Eater Chicago) showed pieces of pizza on the the street and an empty Pisolino pizza box that appear to refute the claim the pizza was delivered to the correct customer.

The DoorDash spokesperson said that the delivery person’s account has been paused, meaning they cannot work while the company sorts out what happened. The company began looking into a the incident on Saturday after a media inquiry. The pandemic has also forced DoorDash to adjust, as it doesn’t have full capacity right now to deal with client inquiries, the spokesperson said. The spokesperson suggested clients use the message portal on the DoorDash tablet of the need to contact the company. DoorDash has posted a few resources online. Co-founder Tony Xu made a blog post on March 17, stating the company would pause collecting commissions for 30 days and would send delivery people had hand sanitizer and gloves.

The incident has shaken De Marte’s faith in Caviar. As restaurants try to survive through the pandemic, De Marte wants third-party delivery services to have more accountability. Mistakes will be made, but companies shouldn’t make restaurants feel ignored. Pisolino and others are counting on these services more than ever.

“Obviously, they weren’t prepared for this,” De Marte said.


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