- Omar L. Gallaga American-Statesman Staff
Uber, the app-driven ride-hailing service that has been operating legally in Austin since October, now wants to serve you a fast lunch.
On Wednesday, the company will roll out UberEATS, which promises on-demand meals, delivered curbside in 10 minutes or less in the downtown area from Lamar Boulevard to Interstate 35 and from Cesar Chavez Street to 38th Street. That area will expand as the service is rolled out, the company said.
Each day, the service will offer pre-made meals from two Austin restaurants for about $8 to $12 per meal plus a $3 delivery fee. The delivery fee will be $1 for the first few weeks. Restaurants participating will include East Side King, Swift’s Attic, The Peached Tortilla, Banger’s and Chi’Lantro BBQ, the company said.
For Wednesday’s debut, Austin chef Paul Qui will be “Chef Zero,” curating East Side King chicken and spiced pork bento boxes. The meals will be delivered by what the company describes as its top-rated UberX drivers who’ll be equipped with packages to keep hot and cold meals the right temperature.
Austin is the sixth city to get UberEats. It launched last year in Los Angeles and expanded to Barcelona, Chicago, Toronto and New York.
Elyse Knopf, regional lead for UberEATS, said the service gives drivers more opportunities to make money during a slower time of the day and gives downtown workers access to specially curated meals. The meals will be selected to offset each other, Knopf said. For instance, a hearty burger might be an option on the same day as a lighter Tex-Mex salad.
“It’ll allow people to skip the line at the hottest restaurants,” Knopf said. “We’re saving them that time. Our average estimated times of arrival are right around five minutes in our other markets.”
Uber is entering what’s becoming a crowded field of food-delivery services available in Austin. In addition the usual pizza delivery options, there’s grocery delivery from companies such as Instacart, meal kit delivery from such companies and Greenling Organic Delivery and Blue Apron. And the ready-made meal delivery business is well-established here with companies including Demand Food, Snap Kitchen and Nimble Foods.
UberEATS works through Uber’s existing app, which locates a consumer via their GPS location and sends a driver their way. The user can track the progress of the delivery on a map as it’s happening. Eaters can order multiple meals and split the check with co-workers, paying only one delivery fee for a set of meals, Knopf said. Payments, delivery fees and tips are all handled through the app.
Correction: Story updated Aug. 24 to correct spelling of chef Paul Qui’s name.